Friends and associates at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Israel Medical Association (IMA) were shocked Tuesday to learn of the death of Prof. David Niv, director of the hospital's pain clinic, while driving in Ramat Gan on the way home to Savion. Niv, 57, an anesthesiologist and internal medicine specialist, was the father of three (the youngest only 12). The IMA said it was aghast at the horrible murder. In a message of mourning, IMA chairman Dr. Yoram Blachar said Niv was a "very prominent physician who devoted all his time to relieving the suffering of patients. This terrible tragedy is unthinkable." Blachar added that "violence in Israeli society has long ago crossed the red line and no longer differentiates between criminals and innocent citizens." Blachar said he hoped Niv was not murdered by a patient or a patient's relatives. He sent his condolences to Niv's family and said he was waiting for the results of the police investigation to learn who was responsible. Sourasky Medical Center director Prof. Gabi Barbash said he was called to come and identify Niv's body in the family car that crashed into a tree after a Magen David Adom paramedic team declared him dead. From there, Barbash had to notify the family. The murder "is just incomprehensible," he said. "I don't know what the reasons for the murder were, and to the best of my knowledge he had no enemies in the hospital," Barbash added. Niv was chairman of the European Association for Palliative Medicine and worked at Sourasky for two decades. He also worked in a private clinic in Tel Aviv. Dr. Tamar Yashar, who worked with Niv in the pain clinic, said he was very pleasant to work with and good-naturedly joked with both doctors and patients. "It is hard to believe that he had any enemies. He was someone really special," Yashar said. A decade ago, Niv and Dr. Itai Gur-Arye of Boston's Beth Israel Hospital conducted clinical studies of capsaicin, the active ingredient found in chili peppers, and found it effective in relieving pain.