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Trial delayed for Israeli held in Arab country after cash raised

Ben Hassin, who fought IS as a volunteer, jailed for killing cabbie who threatened him; ‘blood money’ could spare his life

Israeli national Ben Hassin, who was jailed for killing a taxi driver in an unnamed Arab country, where he went to fight Islamic State. (Courtesy)
Israeli national Ben Hassin, who was jailed for killing a taxi driver in an unnamed Arab country, where he went to fight Islamic State. (Courtesy)

The trial of a Tel Aviv man facing murder charges in an unnamed Arab country has been pushed off by two weeks to allow time for a transfer of funds which may buy his freedom, an Israeli minister said Thursday.

The announcement by Minister Ayoub Kara (Likud) came a day after a massive campaign on behalf of Ben Hassin managed to raise $120,000 in under a day following an appeal from Hassin’s father, who said his son could face a death penalty verdict as early as Sunday.

Ben Hassin, 21, who also holds Canadian citizenship, has been imprisoned since June 2015 after he allegedly killed a cab driver who threatened to kill him or sell him to the Islamic State jihadist group upon discovering that he was Jewish.

Hassin had been in the country, identified by Israeli officials only as an Arab state with which Israel does not have diplomatic relations, to visit his grandparents, but volunteered to fight the terror group while he was there.

Kara, who has been heavily involved in the case, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that since most of the money needed to save Hassin has now been raised, they have succeeded in delaying the trial to finalize the details of the deal and transfer the money to the relevant parties.

The verdict in the trial had been set for Sunday, and he faced either 25 years in jail or the death penalty, his father Ilan Hassin said Tuesday, unless he could come up with $120,000 in blood money for the cab driver’s family.

Hassin’s father, Ilan, who on Tuesday urged the public to donate money to save Ben’s life, has managed to raise nearly $120,000 by Wednesday.

A number of organizations stepped forward to raise money and the ZAKA emergency response group said Wednesday nearly all the money had been raised. On Thursday, the appeal no longer appeared on a crowdfunding website set up to raise the money.

The case had been gagged by Israel’s military censor until Tuesday, when portions were allowed for publication to allow the father to appeal for help.

Minister-without-portfolio Ayoub Kara (right) meets with Ilan Hassin, whose son Ben is held in an unnamed Arab state on murder charges. (Screen capture: Facebook)
Minister-without-portfolio Ayoub Kara (right) meets with Ilan Hassin, whose son Ben is held in an unnamed Arab state on murder charges. (Screen capture: Facebook)

“I don’t have that money,” the elder Hassin said on Israeli TV Tuesday afternoon. “Help me.”

He played a recording of his son, speaking by phone to him from prison in English, in which he said he has been tortured. The younger Hassin is heard saying he was beaten, had his fingernails pulled out and was suspended from a ceiling.

Ilan Hassin is Israeli. Ben Hassin’s mother has reportedly lived in Canada for 30 years.

Alexander Fulbright contributed to this report.

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