Beit Shemesh man charged with killing Hevra Kadisha head

District attorney charges 40-year-old Itzhik Hazan with his murder of Haifa burial society head Benny Hesse.

Hesse 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Hesse 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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.
He 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 Hazan.
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.
Later 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 this report.