Fourteen months after Haifa burial society head Benny Hesse was gunned down
outside his Haifa home, the district attorney on Thursday charged a 40-year-old
man, Itzhik Hazan, with his murder.
Hesse, who was aged 68 at the time of
his death, had been director of the Haifa Hevra Kadisha since 1985.
was gunned down on the city’s Sinai Street in January 2011, in a slaying that
sent shockwaves through the Orthodox community. The police immediately opened a
murder investigation, and on Wednesday announced that they had a breakthrough
last November when a worker found a handgun wrapped in socks and hidden at a
Beit Shemesh mikve ritual bath.
Police said that gun was traced to
According to the indictment, filed in the Haifa District Court on
Thursday, Hazan, a Beit Shemesh resident, decided to kill Hesse sometime in
early January 2011.
Hazan traveled from Beit Shemesh to Haifa on January
2, 2011, and set about investigating Hesse’s movements, in order to set in
motion his murder plan, the indictment said.
Allegedly, between January 4
and 16, Hazan stayed at a relative’s apartment on Haifa’s Leon Blum Street, and
carried out further surveillance on Hesse.
At around 6:30 p.m. on January
16, Hazan carried out a reconnaissance tour of the area near Hesse’s apartment
block, and then returned to his apartment, the indictment said.
that evening, before 8:15, Hazan went out again, this time carrying a CZ
semiautomatic pistol equipped to fire 9mm. Parabellum cartridges, designed to
kill a person, the indictment alleges.
According to the indictment, Hazan
then waited for Hesse to come home, so he could murder him.
Hesse and his
wife arrived home at around 8:15.
They parked their car in a driveway
nearby, and set out to walk home, Hesse first and his wife a short distance
behind him, the indictment said.
As soon as Hesse reached the entrance to
his building, Hazan allegedly opened fire, pumping at least five bullets into
Hesse, of which four hit his chest and arms.
Alongside the indictment,
the district attorney also filed a request that Hazan be remanded in custody
throughout the legal proceedings against him.
In that request, the
prosecution allege that DNA found on a pair of socks in which the alleged murder
weapon was hidden matched that of Hazan.
Among other things, the
prosecution also alleges that cellphone records show Hazan took an eight-second
phone call from near Hesse’s home on January 2, 2011.
Hazan, aged 49, has
denied the charges.
Hesse, who is survived by his wife, four children and
grandchildren, was the victim of an acid attack in 2004. Earlier that same year,
vandals set fire to the door of his house.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to