© Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
Firefighters extinguishing the car hit in a bombing in Tel Aviv on January 10, 2012.
Police believe blast was assassination attempt on criminal kingpin Nissim Alperon; bomb appears to have been detonated by a motorcylist nearby.

A car exploded in central Tel Aviv early Thursday afternoon, after a bomb was apparently detonated by a motorcyclist nearby. At least seven people were lightly wounded, and were being treated by paramedics at the scene.

An initial investigation indicated that the explosion on the corner of Begin Streets was an assassination attempt targeting criminal kingpin Nissim Alperon.

The black Mazda was moving at the time of the blast, and burst into flames. A nearby bus apparently empty of passengers was also hit in the explosion. Alperon was reportedly sitting in the car just before the blast, but managed to escape unscathed.

If this was indeed an assassination attempt, it will have been the eighth targeting Alperon over the last 12 years.

He last survived an attempt on his life in June of last year when a bomb exploded in his car. Alperon's 70-year-old associate was lightly injured in the blast and his Toyota SUV went up in flames.

Some of Alperon's previous brushes with death also involved car bombs. In 2000 he and five others were injured when a booby-trapped motorbike exploded on Rashi street, at the same place where the SUV exploded in the June 2012 attack.

© Photo by Motti Kimche
Crime kingpin Nissim Alperon
In 2002 Alperon and his bodyguard overcame a hitman who had been sent to kill him. In 2003 shots were fired at Alperon on two separate occasions. In 2006 a bomb exploded in his car wash business. He was not hurt.

In 2007 he survived two attempts. In one, he was attacked while sitting in a cafe in Ramat Gan. In the second, armed men came to his house, presumably to kill him, but police officers who arrived at the scene prevented the murder at the last moment. A police officer was injured in the shooting that ensued and one of the hitmen was injured and arrested.

The head of the Alperon family, Nissim's brother Yaakov, was killed in November 2008 when his car passed over a bomb on the corner of Pinkas Street and Namir Road in north Tel Aviv. He had been on his way home from court, after two of his sons had their remand extended for alleged threats and extortion.