Police said Monday morning that they had thwarted a criminal assassination attempt when sappers defused a large explosive device that was attached to a vehicle.
In a statement, police said they believed a “huge disaster” had been prevented because the size of the bomb meant that in addition to the target, innocent bystanders could also have been killed or wounded.
Police did not clarify where exactly the vehicle was located, but said the intended target was a resident of Ashdod.
Southern coastal cities have been the focus of an escalating turf war between criminal gangs.
According to the Walla news site, the vehicle belonged to an associate of underworld boss Shalom Domrani.
If so, it would be the latest in a series of violent and deadly incidents as Domrani’s crime organization battles with rivals.
In March, Domrani’s son Nissim was shot and seriously wounded in an attempted assassination in Ashkelon.
In February, Avi Bitton, a senior figure in Domrani’s crime family and reportedly his top moneyman, was killed by a bomb, also in Ashkelon.
Later that month, two members of Domrani’s organization were arrested in Ashdod with police suspecting they were heading to carry out a hit on a member of bitter rival Benny Shlomo’s crime family. The two were stopped by police who found masks and a pistol in their car.
Shalom Domrani was released from prison last October after serving six years for two attempted murder convictions, and has since then allegedly been working to strengthen and financially rehabilitate his organization.
His exit from prison came after Shlomo was also released last August, having served time for assault.