Former Burial Society Officials Arrested for Fake Plot Sales

The trio is accused of stealing tens of thousands of shekels people paid to purchase burial plots for themselves or their loved ones.

A cemetery in Israel, 2016.
Ilan Assayag

Three former officials of a central Israeli city's religious council who were also members of the local burial society were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing money that had been paid for burial plots. The arrests follow a year-long undercover investigation.

Israelis can be buried in the city of their residence for a symbolic sum. However, if they prefer to be buried elsewhere – and especially if they want to be buried in the ground rather than in a drawer in a “high rise” cemetery – it will cost them.

The three officials from the city of Yehud are suspected of charging non-residents tens of thousands of shekels apiece to purchase ground burial plots for themselves or their loved ones. Instead of handing the money over to the city's religious council and registering the buyers as owners of the plots, the trio pocketed the money.

Once an actual burial was needed, the victims discovered they hadn’t been registered as plot owners. At least dozens of people are believed to have been duped in this manner.

Two of the suspects will be brought before the court to extend their custody. The third has been released to house arrest.