By Batya Jerenberg, WorldIsraelNews.com
The terrorists who seized the body of Israeli Druze teen Tiran Fero from a Jenin hospital returned it to Israeli authorities early Thursday morning, with security sources saying nothing was given in exchange.
Senior Israeli officials praised the Palestinian Authority (PA) for the way it dealt with the crisis, helping it end after some 30 hours of intense negotiations with the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, the majority faction that runs the PA.
The Brigades has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S., EU, Canada, and several other countries.
“The Palestinian security mechanisms and the Palestinian Authority took the incident very seriously as a test in their eyes,” said the officials. “They demonstrated cooperation and a great desire to solve this complex problem, precisely in the city of Jenin. The Palestinian Authority demonstrated responsibility and seriousness here.”
Jenin is a hotspot of terrorism that the PA has had a hard time controlling and, as the officials said, “The Palestinian Authority knew that if it failed the test of exhuming the body, it would be a disaster for them, how to act in the future in this area. The Palestinian public expects them to demonstrate governance in the area.”
The “embarrassment” the PA felt over the incident, as well as heavy and constant Israeli pressure also contributed to the happy ending, according to the officials.
They said that another factor that contributed to the terrorists telling the PA where to find the body was that they lost the support of their base, the residents of Jenin’s refugee camp, after the IDF closed off their area so that no one could go in or out.
“They understood that they would pay a heavy financial price,” the officials said. “They [also] understood that at the end, the IDF would carry out an action that would end with the return of the body and dead or arrested armed militants.”
Reports had surfaced that the terrorists had demanded that Israel release jailed Palestinians or the bodies of terrorists in order to secure the return of Fero’s remains, but the security officials said Thursday that no demands had been made – and that in any case Israel did not respond to any such requests.
“We did not conduct any negotiations with the holders of the body. We did not give anything in return. We made it clear – this body goes back to the family.”
Around 5:00 a.m., the body was brought in a Red Crescent ambulance to the Salameh crossing near Jenin, where Fero’s family identified it. The funeral is set to be held Thursday afternoon, coinciding with Fero’s 18th birthday, according to his father, Hussam.
“I can’t describe it,” Hussam told Channel 13. “My heart is broken. I lost a son today, it’s his birthday today. Instead of having a birthday with his family, I am preparing a funeral, so you can imagine what pain I am going through.”
The abduction had enraged the Druze community. Hundreds participated in a rally in Fero’s hometown of Daliyat al-Carmel, and dozens of people blocked a major highway Wednesday night for a short time in protest. A video also surfaced on social media of a small group of masked men saying that if the body wasn’t returned immediately, the Druze would go into Jenin to get it themselves.
In an interview on 103FM, Israeli Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Moafaq Tarif had made a veiled threat, saying “All those who were involved in the kidnapping – their names are already known.”
“We trust the IDF and the state and also everyone involved in the negotiations,” he added. “I’ll give negotiations a chance, but there are many ways and many possibilities.”
On the other hand, Fero’s uncle, Edi, told Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, one of the IDF’s highest-ranking Druze, that “with all the pain” the family is feeling, his nephew wasn’t alive anymore and he “didn’t want even a single IDF soldier to get hurt” in a mission to get the body back.
Contrary to the family’s accusation that the terrorists had taken Fero while he was still alive, killing him by disconnecting him from the ventilator, the IDF emphasized that Fero had already been declared dead by the time his remains were seized.