The body of a young Israeli Druze man who was seized by Palestinian gunmen in Jenin has been transferred to his family, the Israeli army said on Thursday, adding that nothing had been given in return.
“We did not negotiate in any way with the gunmen who had the body,” an IDF spokesman said during a briefing. “We did not give anything in return. I think at some point they understood that the consequences of this happening would have been very harsh on the Jenin economy.”
Gunmen stormed a Jenin hospital and seized the body of Tiran Ferro, who had been in a car accident 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 troops, they said.
Israel closed the roads in and out of Jenin on Wednesday after the body was seized, reopening them on Thursday after it was returned.
Jenin Governor Major General Akram Rajoub told CNN that Palestinian Authority security officials had led negotiations with the gunmen who had the body.
“The Palestinian Authority General Intelligence Service had contacts with one of the hijackers, which facilitated the return of the body to the General Intelligence Service headquarters in Jenin,” Rajoub said.
There is a dispute over whether Ferro was alive or dead when gunmen broke into his hospital room in Jenin and took his body.
Ferro’s father told Israeli media on Wednesday that the teenager was alive and without life support. But Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was taken away.
Ferro’s father said: “When we were at the hospital, we were standing in front of the intensive care unit. My son was on the ventilator and had a heartbeat. He was with my brother and my son, suddenly a gang of 20 masked men came screaming into the room. We stood by and there was nothing we could have done.
“They kidnapped the body in front of my eyes,” Ferro’s father told reporters on camera.
But Jenin Governor Rajoub told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was taken away.
The Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian militant group based in the West Bank refugee camp, said Wednesday in a statement obtained by CNN that it was holding Ferro’s body and demanded that Israel hand over all the bodies of Palestinians killed by the IDF in possession of Israel. The group also said it had raised the alert status among its members in anticipation of Israeli forces storming the Jenin camp.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed on Wednesday that “the kidnappers would pay a heavy price” if Ferro de Tiran’s body was not returned: “Israel has shown in recent months that there is no place and no terrorist who does not know how to get”.
Lapid said that Ferro was going to celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday. He was a member of the Druze minority, community leaders told CNN.