Mayor Lahiani's Brother Shot, Wounded in Suspected Business Spat

Businessman Avi Lahiani, the brother of Bat Yam Mayor Shlomo Lahiani, was shot Tuesday night and lightly injured when a bullet ricocheted and struck his arm. Police suspect the incident stemmed from a dispute between Avi Lahiani and a local business owner.

Avi Lahiani is one of the owners of the Cup 'O' Joe cafe branch on the Bat Yam seaside promenade, and also has other business interests. However, he spoke at length yesterday with a special police investigation team and insisted that he is not involved in any disputes.

The shooting occurred close to midnight, when Lahiani arrived at his Bat Yam home. A car, apparently with two men inside, sped by his home and one of the occupants allegedly opened fire, after which the car left the scene. A Magen David Adom team treated Lahiani at the scene, and he did not require hospitalization.

A senior Tel Aviv police source told Haaretz yesterday that one of the force's primary avenues of investigation is the suspicion Lahiani was recently involved in a dispute with local Bat Yam businessmen and that the shooting was meant to warn Lahiani rather than kill him. A source close to the investigation added that Lahiani had a wide range of business associations in Bat Yam.

The fact that the victim is the mayor's brother gives added weight to the case, the source noted.

The mayor, Shlomo Lahiani, told Israel Radio yesterday: "It doesn't appear to me that there is any connection between myself and what happened to my little brother. Bat Yam is a city with no underworld, and if there is, we aggressively act against criminals. I am absolutely certain the police will find [the perpetrators]."