Druze warn they will enter Jenin if kidnapped teen not returned

Uncle of the Israeli Druze teenager claims that Palestinian terrorists disconnected his nephew from life support while he was still alive.

 Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian Islamic Jihad activist Matin dabaya, who was killed during clashes with Israeli forces, during his funeral in Jenin, in the West Bank, October 14, 2022.  (photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)
Palestinian gunmen and mourners attend the funeral of Palestinian Islamic Jihad activist Matin dabaya, who was killed during clashes with Israeli forces, during his funeral in Jenin, in the West Bank, October 14, 2022.
(photo credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

Druze protesters gathered in northern Israel to demand the return of Tiran Ferro, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists in Jenin, with some demonstrators warning they would enter Jenin to take him back if he isn't returned on Thursday.

Protesters blocked Highway 6 for over two hours on Wednesday night, with Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev asking the spiritual leader of the Druze community Sheikh Muafak Tariff to act to have them stop blocking the road.

Demonstrators marching in northern Israel chanted "with soul and blood we will redeem Tiran." A video shared on social media reportedly showed a group of armed, masked Druze Israelis warning that if the body was not returned by tomorrow morning they would go to Jenin.

The 17-year-old Israeli-Druze boy who was kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen was still alive when he was taken from the hospital in Jenin, his family members said. According to Ferro's father, he had been connected to a ventilator and had a pulse when a group of 20 armed men stormed into the hospital and kidnapped him in front of the family.

 IDF raid on Jenin, October 14, 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF raid on Jenin, October 14, 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Ferro had been critically injured in a car crash near Jenin on Tuesday and taken to Ibn Sina Hospital in the West Bank city where he underwent multiple surgeries. He was in critical but stable condition. Being removed from the ventilator is what killed him, the father, Hossam, and Edri Ferro, an uncle, said.

Edri said the gunmen burst into the hospital looking for the man who had been injured in the car accident.

"They fired their weapons in the air and yelled in Arabic, no one dared to stop them. They disconnected him from the life support machines and threw him into a vehicle."

Hady Ferro

“They fired their weapons in the air and yelled in Arabic, no one dared to stop them. They disconnected him from the life-support machines and threw him into a vehicle,” he said.

His father told reporters that there was nothing they could have done.

“It was a miracle we got out of there,” he said.

Confirming the family’s accusations, Israel’s Foreign Ministry tweeted on Wednesday that after Ferro was critically injured, when the gunmen discovered that he was Israeli they disconnected him from a respirator.

“This horrendous crime is a grave and serious human rights abuse,” the Foreign Ministry wrote. “This horrific attack shows the blatant disregard that Palestinian terrorist organizations in Jenin have for human life. They do not differentiate between man, woman, child, religion or ethnicity. Those responsible will be brought to justice.”

PA fails to retrieve body from terrorist groups

While significant progress has been made by the PA and the mayor of Jenin in negotiations with the gunmen, the body has not yet been handed over to the authorities, Walla reported.

According to reports, the Palestinian Authority Security Forces entered the Jenin refugee camp and managed to transfer Ferro’s body to a Red Crescent ambulance. But the ambulance was blocked from leaving the camp by a large crowd that included several gunmen who fired in the air before grabbing the body and heading back toward the camp.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been in contact with the family and said the defense establishment is working to get the body back as quickly as possible to bury him.

“This is a basic humanitarian issue,” he said.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed that Ferro’s body would be returned to Israel.

“There is no place and no terrorist that we cannot reach, from the Kasba in Nablus to the Jenin refugee camp to distant battle sites. If Tiran’s body is not returned, the kidnappers will pay a heavy price,” he warned.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland was working in coordination with the PA on Wednesday to try secure Ferro’s release, a diplomatic source confirmed.

According to Hebrew-language media, the uncle also spoke with Gantz and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories head Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian. He told the two officials that the family doesn’t want to risk the lives of soldiers to retrieve the body.

“We’re willing to wait a few more days, I don’t want another mother in Israel to cry,” he said.

The spiritual leader of Israel’s Druze community, Tariff, was quoted as saying he was speaking to all sides involved and that holding the body “is against all religious and social principles. I call on the Palestinian Authority’s security forces to advance the release of the body.”

Ferro, from Daliat al-Carmel in the North, entered the Jenin area with a friend, 17-year-old Adir Daksa, through the Gilboa crossing, after which they were in a car accident. Daksa, who suffered a serious head injury, was transferred to Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center for further treatment. He remains sedated and on a ventilator after undergoing head surgery.

Following the incident, the Jalame and Salem crossings near Jenin were closed until further assessments could be carried out. The IDF said it expects the body to be returned to the family as a “humanitarian gesture.”

While there was no immediate public claim of responsibility by any terrorist groups, according to the uncle, the gunmen belonged to Palestinian Islamic Jihad. According to reports, the gunmen believed Ferro was an undercover Israeli officer, and they were demanding the release of the bodies of terrorists being held by Israel in return for his body.

Demonstrators protested in in Daliyat el-Karmel

Hundreds of demonstrators protested in front of the council building in Daliat al-Carmel on Wednesday, calling for the return of Ferro’s body. Some of the demonstrators warned that if the body is not returned, “all of us Druze will enter Jenin.”

Daliat al-Carmel Council head Rafik Halabi asked Druze citizens not to go to the Jenin checkpoint or into Jenin itself.

“This could complicate matters, it could change the equation,” he said. “We are in contact with them. We hope for the good, because we are mourning this boy, this good and quiet boy.”

Although Ferro’s father had said the Islamic Jihad was behind the kidnapping, Halabi addressed al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, asking the group to “think rationally, think humanitarianly, wisely. This is a high school student. Return his body home. This is my only request to you.”

The incident in Jenin came as the military continued Operation Break the Wave, with a special focus on the northern West Bank. The operation was launched in response to a wave of deadly terrorist attacks that killed 20 people inside Israel. Since the beginning of the operation, another 14 civilians have been killed, along with four security forces.

A large number of terrorist attacks have originated from Jenin and its surroundings in recent months. The city of Jenin has long been seen as the heart of the West Bank resistance, and dozens of deadly attacks have come from its refugee camp.

The Jenin refugee camp has posed a challenge to not only the IDF, but also to the Palestinian Authority Security Forces, which have so far been unable to get a handle on the terror. Despite differences, the security cooperation between Palestinian security forces and the IDF continues, with regular meetings between officials.

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.