Hit Target Regains Consciousness, Fingers Bystander's Murderer

For six weeks, suspected criminal Einav Cohen lay unconscious at Assaf Harofeh Hospital. Detectives from the Central District's Central Unit who were investigating the attempt on Cohen's life, in which teenage bystander Yiftach Mor-Yosef was killed, visited Cohen every few days, hoping he would wake up and help them catch his assailants. However, Cohen's condition deteriorated week by week.

Suddenly, three weeks ago, Cohen regained consciousness. He was unable to speak, but when investigators gave him a pencil and paper, he scribbled the name "Nir Haziza," who already had been arrested as the main murder suspect.

Yesterday, 59 days after Haziza's arrest, he was brought to court in Ramle, and veteran Chief Inspector Anat Katsav read a declaration by the prosecution stating he would be indicted for murder and attempted murder.

Cohen is now recovering. He was shot in downtown Ramle, his hometown, as he got out of his car. The assailant fired at close range, but Cohen ran a few hundred meters down the street, begging for his life. During the chase, the assailant shot Mor-Yosef, killing him almost instantly.

Minutes before Cohen collapsed, he mumbled "Nir, Nir" to friends who came to his aid.

Two weeks after the murder, Haziza and two associates, Aviv David and Avraham Tzadok, were arrested. Aside from denying all involvement in the affair, the three have maintained their right to remain silent during questioning, conducted by Katsav and her team.

Before they were arrested, the three revealed the background of the shooting to police. There was bad blood between Haziza, David and Tzadok, and a former associate of Cohen. Haziza claimed Cohen's ex-partner owed him tens of thousands of shekels. The ex-partner left the country, and Haziza and his associates turned on Einav Cohen instead.

"A day before the murder, Haziza came to Cohen's parents' market stall and tried to extort the money from them," Katsav said. "We started to collect testimony and evidence that indicated Haziza was the main suspect, but we continued to hope Einav would wake up and tell us what happened."

Then, three weeks ago, the moment arrived. One of Cohen's friends reported to Katsav that Cohen had opened one eye, and his condition was improving. "We ran to the hospital, but we still couldn't communicate with him, because he still couldn't open his mouth or move his hands," Katsav said.

Writing notes, Cohen gave investigators exact information about the events leading up to the shooting. "One of the first notes he wrote was the name 'Nir Haziza.' That was 'bingo' for us. Along with quite a bit of other evidence against Haziza, we got his name from the victim, whom people said had one foot in the next world," a senior Central Unit officer said.