An Israeli man who enlisted to fight against the Islamic State group in an unspecified Arab state is being held in prison there and faces 25 years in jail or the death penalty, his father said.
After the military censor allowed some details of Ben Hassin’s case to be published on Tuesday, his father Ilan and an Israeli minister both implored the public to donate money to save his life.
Ben Hassin, 21, who also holds Canadian citizenship, has been imprisoned since June 2015 in an Arab country with which Israel has no diplomatic relations, after he allegedly killed a cab driver who threatened to kill him upon discovering that he was Jewish.
The request for money from the public is to pay to the taxi driver’s family, in the hope that a $120,000 payment will facilitate his release. “I don’t have that money,” said his father in a TV interview. “Help me.”
תמונה חדשה מהכלא של הישראלי בן חסין, שנעצר במדינת אויב בחשד לרצח נהג מונית pic.twitter.com/U6L245orBl
— חדשות 13 (@newsisrael13) January 25, 2017
Hassin’s father Ilan said on Tuesday that his son went to visit his grandparents in the unnamed Arab country and while there “volunteered to fight against the terrorists” of IS.
However, while riding in a taxi during a break from the fighting, the cab driver “heard [Hassin] speaking Hebrew” and threatened to kill him for being Jewish and Israeli. Hassin shot the cab driver, who died three days later of his wounds, his father told Channel 2.
ilan Hassin played a recording of his son, speaking by phone to him from prison in English, in which Ben said he has been tortured. Ben said his nails had been pulled out, he had been suspended from a ceiling, and that he had been beaten.
His father said Hassin faces 25 years in jail or the death penalty, but that he promised the taxi driver’s family a $120,000 “sulha” peacemaking payment by Sunday, when a verdict in the case is expected, and that this could facilitate his release.
Ben Hassin’s father Ilan is Israeli; his mother has reportedly lived in Canada for 30 years.
Some details of the story were first revealed in November by Likud Minister-without-portfolio Ayoub Kara, who posted a video of himself discussing specifics of the case on Facebook.
However, due to the sensitivity of the issue and to ensure the safety of both Hassin and his family, the military censor instructed Kara to remove the video. Kara said he had been trying to help the family and save Hassin’s life.
The decision to allow details of the case to be published was made after Ilan Hassin recently requested help from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem in removing the gag order in order to help raise money for his son’s release, according to the Hebrew-language Israel Hayom daily.
Kara told Haaretz on Tuesday that the unnamed country would release Hassin in exchange for a “ransom” of $120,000. He said that he wanted the details of the case to be made public in order to “raise the money and save [Hassin].”
Speaking on Channel 2 later Tuesday, Kara asked the public to “donate money to help save a life.”
Illan Hassin told Channel 2 the payment would be made to the cab driver’s family in exchange for their forgiveness for the man’s death, a practice which he described as part of “the culture” in certain countries.
Deputy Foreign Ministry spokesman Eitan Weiss told Israel Hayom that further details of the case cannot be made public as “we are worried that Islamic terrorists would discover that there is an Israeli in prison [in the unnamed country] and try to find him and harm him.”
He added: “We hope that [Hassin’s] father succeeds in obtaining the money he is meant to give as compensation, and that his son will return home as quickly as possible.”