A 46-year-old man from Hadera was critically wounded on Wednesday when his vehicle exploded in the city’s Police Square. Two others were lightly wounded. The police believe the explosion was a gangland assassination attempt.

The victim is known to the police as an associate of Hadera’s former mayor, Haim Avitan, and was arrested in the past in connection with a corruption investigation into the Hadera municipality.

The explosion took place while the victim was driving his vehicle in the city. Passersby were in the area were also injured by the blast. Magen David Adom paramedics transported the wounded to the hospital and traffic was diverted away from the site of the blast.

“Just near the traffic circle we saw a charred vehicle, with a severely wounded man in his forties in the driver’s seat. We treated him in the field. Four other lightly wounded individuals, as well as numerous shock victims, were treated at the scene by MDA personnel,” said Eyal Drori, a Magen David Adom paramedic.

The victim of the attack worked in the currency exchange. A few years ago, he served a nine month prison sentence for extortion, and was also convicted of operating a restaurant without a license. He was arrested in a corruption investigation along with Avitan in June 2013.

Avitan was arrested in connection with deals he made with contractors, including his son, in exchange for bribes, as well as money laundering and tax evasion. In 2013, Avitan’s vehicle exploded while parked next to his home and was completely burned. At the time, Avitan said that he did not fear criminals in the city, but rather political opposition members and other opponents “driven mad by jealousy.” The investigation into Avitan was closed last July, although there are still an ongoing investigation into the victim of the assassination attempt.