Shooting Victim Emerges From Vegetative State and Names Attacker

In August, innocent bystander was killed during attempted hit in Ramle. Target, critically wounded in the shooting, helps police solve the crime.

The Israel Police has solved the murder of Yiftah Mor Yosef, who was accidentally shot during an attempted hit in Ramle three months ago, it emerged on Wednesday.

A gag order was lifted Wednesday, revealing the details of the case: the target of the hit, Einav Cohen, who was critically wounded in the shooting, emerged from his coma three weeks ago and told investigators "I saw who shot me. Nir Haziza tried to kill me."

The attempted hit took place in early August, as Cohen, a young Ramle resident with a criminal record, drove onto Bar Ilan street in the city. Just after Cohen got out of his car to speak to a friend, a motorcyclist approached them and fired at them at close range. Cohen tried to flee and ran several hundred meters down the road. The shooter pursued him while incessantly shooting, as Cohen begged the shooter to spare him.

Mor Yosef, who was sitting with friends nearby, sustained a gunshot wound to his head and subsequently died. The shooter fled the scene within seconds, and Cohen collapsed and was rushed to hospital in critical condition.

During the first days of the investigation, headed by Chief Inspector Anat Katzav, one of the experienced investigators followed a lead to the main suspect, Nir Haziza, another Ramle resident whose family lives next door to the Mor Yosefs. Two weeks after the murder, police arrested Haziza and two of his associates, Avi David and Avraham Tzadok, on suspicion of involvement in the murder. The three kept silent and denied any involvement in the case.

However, shortly following the launch of the investigation, it became clear that Haziza and Cohen's former partner had had a falling out over money. Haziza claimed that Cohen's friend owed him hundreds of thousands of shekels. The friend recently left the country, and Haziza turned his rage toward Cohen.

"One day before the murder, Haziza came to Cohen's parents' shop and tried to extort money from them," Chief Inspector Katzav said. "We began to gather evidence pointing to Haziza as the main suspect in the murder, but we were hoping that Einav [Cohen] would regain consciousness and tell us what had happened that night."

Cohen laid in his hospital bed for six weeks, while the three suspects were in custody. He was medically classified as a vegetable. During the entire time, Katzav visited Cohen every day in hopes that he would wake up and crack the case. Her hope was not in vain, as a friend of Cohen's called her three weeks ago to tell her that Cohen was awake. Investigators rushed to the hospital to question the victim. Since Cohen was still unable to speak, he answered police questions in writing, initially. As his recovery progressed, he was able to recount the story of the shooting.

"For two months," Katzav said Tuesday, "this case was the most important thing in my life. This is a complex investigation which required a lot of patience and constant contact with the victims. It was an investigation that required a huge investment, and endurance. To sit face to face with a shooting victim, who was classified as a vegetable and was almost gone, and to get the name of the killer from him ? that's rare."

Haziza was brought before a Ramle judge on Wednesday for extension of his remand. The prosecution said he would be indicted within five days.