Israeli-Druze held by Jenin gunmen buried in Daliat al-Carmel

The 18-year-old's funeral was held in the northern Israeli town on Thursday after his body was returned to his family.

 Family and friends mourn during the funeral procession of Tiran Fero, an israeli teenager whose body was kidnapped from a hospital in Jenin by palestinian gunmen and returned to Israel tonight, in Daliyat al-Karmel, northern Israel, November 24, 2022 (photo credit: SHIR TOREM/FLASH90)
Family and friends mourn during the funeral procession of Tiran Fero, an israeli teenager whose body was kidnapped from a hospital in Jenin by palestinian gunmen and returned to Israel tonight, in Daliyat al-Karmel, northern Israel, November 24, 2022
(photo credit: SHIR TOREM/FLASH90)

Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Israeli Druze community, thanked the relevant Israeli and Palestinian authorities who worked on returning Ferro’s body home, after a “nerve-racking day and a half for the family and the entire community.”

“At this moment, our hearts are with the grieving family, who is now forced to accompany their loved one to eternal rest,” Tarif added. The sheikh, speaking on behalf of the Druze community, thanked Israelis for “showing solidarity with the family on a humanitarian issue.”

Tiran's body returned to family after intense negotiations

Ferro’s body was transferred at 4 a.m. to his family in Israel through the Salam crossing.

Family of Tiran Fero waiting to receive the teenager's body. (credit: COGAT SPOKESPERSON)Family of Tiran Fero waiting to receive the teenager's body. (credit: COGAT SPOKESPERSON)

The negotiations were led by Maj.-Gen. Ghassan Alian from the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories along with the Israel Police, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and other civilian bodies, including international mediators. Rafik Halabi, head of the Daliat al-Carmel Council, said Qatar, Jordan and Egypt were also involved in the talks.

According to a senior officer, senior members from the Tanzim group sat with the terrorists for six hours to convince them to release the body. The body was then transferred to the PA’s General Intelligence building in Jenin before being brought to the Salam crossing by ambulance.

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

The senior officer stressed there were no negotiations with the terrorists and there was only one demand to the PA and that was to return the body. Had Ramallah not acted, the officer said, the IDF would have used other means to get the body back.

The Palestinian Authority was also “embarrassed” by the incident, the officer said, adding that he had spoken to residents who said that it was “a disaster for the PA. They knew that if they failed to return the body, they would have lost all legitimacy to operate in Jenin in the future as well.”

Its security forces took the incident very seriously and were able to pressure the gunmen to release Ferro’s body.

“The PA demonstrated governance and responsibility during this event,” the officer said.

Gunmen belong to various terror groups - senior officer

According to the senior officer, the gunmen belonged to various terror groups and had been losing support for their acts in Jenin and the city’s refugee camp.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent his “heartfelt condolences” to the family following the return of the body and said it was “the least we could do to bring them comfort.”

Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the PA for its work to release Ferro’s body.

 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.  (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. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

“I would like to commend the Palestinian Authority for taking action to return Tiran Ferro, of blessed memory, to his family,” Gantz said. “This is a basic, humanitarian measure taken after a horrific incident. Thank you to the security forces and institutions, the leaders and officials, who worked tirelessly to return him.”

Israel had sought a diplomatic solution to the crisis but was also preparing for a military operation to retrieve the body, various Hebrew-language outlets reported on Wednesday.

Ferro’s uncle told the media that the body would be returned earlier.

“The whole family is very grateful to everyone who acted and contributed to the advancement of the process of solving the crisis and bringing Tiran’s body so that we can say goodbye to him in a dignified manner and bring him to be buried in Daliat al-Carmel,” Edri Ferro declared.

His family claimed that the teenager was still alive when he was taken from the hospital in Jenin.

According to his father, Hossam, 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.

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 operations. He was in critical but stable condition, however, removing him from the ventilator is what killed him, his father and uncle claim.

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,” he said.

The senior officer said the defense establishment will check if Ferro was alive when he was taken from the hospital, as the family claims that the gunmen killed him after disconnecting him from life support.