The body of an Israeli teenager kidnapped from a West Bank hospital by Palestinian militants was returned to his family on Thursday, the Israeli army said.
The teenager was from Israel’s Druze Arab minority. Its members serve in the Israeli security forces and also have ties to the Palestinians. The incident threatened to escalate the already simmering tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
The family of 17-year-old Tiran Feron said Palestinian militants entered the hospital where he was being treated after a car accident in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. According to his father Husam Feron, they took him away from the hospital equipment while he was still alive.
The Israeli military said that Tiran Feron was already dead when he was abducted and the circumstances of his death are being investigated. The military did not provide evidence, and Fero’s father did not elaborate on his claim that his son was alive when he was taken.
An Israeli military official said the return of the body was carried out through the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited autonomy in the West Bank, and that there were no negotiations with the militants holding the body. He spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with official rules.
The Palestinian governor of Jenin, Akram Rajoub, told Israel’s public radio station Kan that the theft of Fero’s body was a “big mistake” and that Palestinian officials were making great efforts to free him. He offered his condolences to Feron’s family and the Druze community.
It was not immediately clear what led to the abduction, and no armed group claimed responsibility. Palestinian militants have carried out kidnappings in the past to extract concessions from Israel.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked Palestinian officials who “worked tirelessly” for the return of Fero’s body.
“This is a basic, humanitarian measure taken after a terrible incident.
This incident angered the Druze community, who demanded the return of the body.
Police said Thursday they were investigating an alleged attack by residents of the predominantly Druze village of Yarka in the Galilee. Officers found three wounded and bound Palestinians and freed them, police said.
Police did not say whether the incident was related to Fero’s kidnapping.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and East Jerusalem this year, making 2022 the deadliest year since 2006. The fighting escalated after a series of attacks by Palestinians in Israel in the spring that killed 19 people.
The Israeli army says that most of the Palestinians killed were militants. However, stone-throwing youths protesting the raids and other people who did not participate in the clashes were also killed.
Eight more Israelis have been killed in recent weeks as a result of new Palestinian attacks. A teenager was killed and at least 18 others were injured in two explosions at two bus stops in Jerusalem on Wednesday.