Palestinian gunmen stormed a hospital in Jenin and seized the body of a young Israeli Druze civilian who was involved in a car accident in the West Bank, authorities from both sides in the conflict said on Wednesday. The gunmen demanded the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, they said.
The victim, identified as Tiran Ferro, was involved in Tuesday’s accident along with another civilian, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement. He is a member of the Druze minority, community leaders told CNN.
Ferro’s father told Israeli media that the teenager was alive and had been taken off life support by a group of Palestinian gunmen in a hospital.
But Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was taken.
Ferro’s father said: “When we were in the hospital, we were in front of the intensive care unit. My son was on a ventilator and had a heart attack. I was with my brother and son when suddenly a gang of 20 masked men entered the room screaming. We stood by and there was nothing we could have done.
“They kidnapped the body before my eyes,” said Ferro’s father in front of the camera.
The Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian militant group based in the West Bank refugee camp, said in a CNN statement that they held Ferro’s body and called on Israel to hand over any Israeli-held bodies of Palestinians killed by the IDF. The group also said it had raised the state of alert 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 Tiran’s body was not returned: “Israel has proved over the past few months that there is no place and no terrorist it cannot reach White.”
Lapid said Ferro will celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday.
Tor Wennesland, UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, is involved in negotiations with the Palestinian group over the release of Ferro’s body to Israel, a spokesman told CNN.
The IDF said Ferro and another person entered Jenin via the Gilboa-Jalame crossing, which has been closed since Wednesday after the blasts in Jerusalem.
The other person involved in the accident was seriously injured, they added.
The IDF said the body of the deceased had been removed from the hospital and is expected to be returned to Israel shortly “as a necessary humanitarian measure.”
After the two blasts in Jerusalem on Wednesday, the Israeli Defense Ministry decided to close the Gilboa-Jalame and Salem crossings after a safety assessment, a spokesman for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.
Tensions have been particularly high in Jenin for months, as this year has seen a spate of armed attacks on Israeli troops and civilians.