A 45-year-old man was seriously injured Thursday evening when an explosion ripped through his car in the southern city of Kiryat Gat. He was taken to Beersheba’s Soroka Hospital for treatment.

It was unclear whether the incident was the latest in a string of underworld assassination attempts. Police opened an investigation into the incident.

“Suddenly we heard a big explosion,” a resident told Channel 2. “We thought it was thunder, then we saw a lot of police. Maybe it’s an underworld hit.”

Israel has seen a worrying uptick in assassination attempts in recent months. In November, an attempt was made on the life of a state attorney who led the cases against major crime organizations and was considered an aggressive prosecutor.

The explosion came after a series of shootings and explosions perpetrated in recent weeks by criminal organizations in several major Israeli cities in recent months. 

The attempt on the prosecutor’s life took place not far from an assassination attempt against a suspected crime boss in January, when a motorcyclist pulled up to Nissim Alperon’s vehicle in northern Tel Aviv and threw an explosive device at the car. Alperon escaped the attack unharmed.

In October, a powerful car bomb exploded in the southern city of Ashkelon in what police said was an assassination attempt by a criminal organization against a rival group. One person was killed and another severely wounded in the explosion.

The two victims, police said, were senior members of the Domrani crime family, and authorities feared that a spate of revenge killings in response to the bombing would occur.

The Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.