Palestinian gunmen stormed a hospital in Jenin and seized the body of an Israeli Druze youth who had been involved in a road accident in the West Bank, authorities on both sides of the conflict said Wednesday. They added that the gunmen are demanding the return of the bodies of the Palestinians killed by the Israeli forces.
The Israeli military said in a statement that the victim, identified as Tiran Ferro, was involved in the incident on Tuesday along with another civilian. Community leaders told CNN he belongs to the Druze minority.
Ferro’s father told Israeli media that the boy was still alive and a group of Palestinian gunmen took resuscitation equipment from the hospital.
But Jenin Governor Akram Rajoub told CNN that Ferro died when his body was taken away.
Ferro’s father said, “When we were in the hospital, we were standing in front of the intensive care unit. My son was on a ventilator and was beating. I was with my brother and my son, and suddenly a gang of 20 masked men entered the room, screaming. We just stood by and couldn’t do anything.”
“They kidnapped the body in front of my eyes,” Ferro’s father told reporters on camera.
The Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian armed group based in the West Bank refugee camp, said in a statement obtained by CNN that it was holding Ferro’s body and demanded that Israel turn over all the bodies of Palestinians killed by the Israeli army into Israeli possession. The group also said that it had raised the state of alert among its members in anticipation of the Israeli forces storming the Jenin camp.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed that “the kidnappers will pay a heavy price” if Tiran’s body is not returned: “Israel has proven in recent months that there is no place, no terrorist, that it does not know how to reach.”
Lapid said Fero will celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday.
A spokesman for Tor Winnisland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said he was in negotiations with the Palestinian group for Ferro’s body to be returned to Israel.
The Israeli military said Ferro and another person entered Jenin through the Gilboa-Jalameh crossing, which has since been closed after Wednesday’s blasts in Jerusalem.
They added that the other person involved in the accident was seriously injured.
The Israeli army said that the body of the deceased had been removed from the hospital and that it was expected to be returned to Israel soon “as a required humanitarian action”.
In the aftermath of Wednesday’s bombings in Jerusalem, the Israeli Ministry of Defense decided to close the Gilboa Jalameh and Salem crossings after a security assessment, a spokesperson for the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said.
Tensions have been particularly high for months in Jenin amid an upsurge in armed attacks on Israeli forces and civilians this year.