Head of Haifa Burial Society Shot Dead

Benny Hesse, 67, was shot Sunday at the entrance of his home.

The head of the Haifa burial society was shot to death in from of his home last night.

Benny Hesse, 67, was returning home at about 8 P.M. with his wife. He was shot several times as he walked up the path to their home. His wife was still sitting in the car.

According to the initial police investigation, the assailant, who was apparently waiting for Hesse, fled by car.

Hesse, a father of four, was a prominent figure in Haifa's Ashkenazi Jewish community.

Community members said Hesse had had conflicts with the burial society over allocating graves.

A family friend, Yitzhak Rubin, said, "We understand it was a conflict among various burial societies in the city that had accused him of not allocating them enough plots."

Rubin said Hesse was "a wonderful man, a good man, a good friend. This is a heavy loss to the religious community."

Other sources said Hesse had clashed with local contractors over his work in the burial society.

Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, a close friend who was at the family's home last night, said Hesse "did only righteous acts for the living and the dead."

Hershkowitz said, "We all know of the stories and past attempts to harm Hesse and at some point the police assigned him security." Hershkowitz said that over the past two years, Hesse's life did not seem to be in danger.

Three years ago acid was thrown at Hesse, and someone torched the door of his house.

The chairman of the Haifa burial society, Rabbi Israel Rosenthal, said last night that Hesse was very devoted and caring toward mourning families.

The deputy commander of the local police station, Jamal Hakhrush, said Hesse's shooting was criminally motivated, adding, "We do not know of any complaints Hesse filed about threats in recent years."