The body of an Israeli Druze youth seized by Palestinian gunmen in Jenin has been handed over to his family, the Israeli army said Thursday, with nothing in return.
“We have not discussed in any way with the gunmen who had the bodies,” an IDF spokesman said during a briefing. “We gave nothing in return. I think at some point they realized that the consequences of this incident would be very difficult for the Jenin economy.”
Gunmen attacked a Jenin hospital and seized the body of Tiran Ferro, the victim of a car crash in the West Bank, authorities on both sides of the conflict said Wednesday. The gunmen demanded the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, they said.
Israel closed roads in and out of Jenin on Wednesday after seizing the bodies and reopened them on Thursday after the return.
Jenin’s governor, Major General Akram Rajoub, told CNN that Palestinian Authority security officials had led negotiations with the gunmen holding the bodies.
“The PA General Intelligence Service had contact with a kidnapper, who helped bring the body back to the General Intelligence Service headquarters in Jenin,” Rajoub said.
There is debate over whether Ferro was alive or dead when gunmen broke into his hospital room in Jenin and took his body.
Fero’s father told Israeli media on Wednesday that the teenager was alive and had been taken off life support. But Akram Rajoub, the governor of Jenin, told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was retrieved.
Ferro’s father said: “When we were in the hospital, we were standing in front of the intensive care unit. My son was connected to the ventilator and his heart was beating. I was with my brother and my son when suddenly a group of 20 masked men entered the room shouting. We stood by and there was nothing we could do.
“They kidnapped the body in front of my eyes,” Ferro’s father told reporters on camera.
But Jenin’s governor, Rajoub, told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was retrieved.
The Jenin Brigades, a Palestinian militant group based in West Bank refugee camps, said in a statement obtained by CNN on Wednesday that it was holding Ferro’s body and demanded that all bodies of Palestinians killed by the IDF be handed over to Israel. The group also said it had raised alert among its members in anticipation of Israeli forces storming the Jenin camp.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed on Wednesday that “the kidnappers will pay a heavy price” if Fero’s body in Tirana is not returned: “Israel has proven in recent months that there is no place and no terrorist knows where to reach.”
Lapid said Ferro was going to celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday. He was a member of the Druze minority, community leaders told CNN.