The body of Tiran Ferro, the 18-year-old high-school student from Daliat al-Carmel who was injured in a car crash in the West Bank, has been returned to Israel – more than 24 hours after it was snatched from hospital by armed Palestinians. According to the IDF, the body was transferred "after efforts by the security forces in coordination with the Palestinian Authority."
"I have mixed emotions. On the one hand it is a relief that the boy was returned to Israel so that we can bury him," said Ferro's cousin, Adi. "But on the other hand we are hurting over the loss of an 18-year-old boy. We are torn. Losing a son is a very difficult thing but at least the body was returned. That is the piece of hope in the midst of all this great sadness."
Prime Minister Yair Lapid sent his condolences to Ferro's family and the entire Druze community "for Tiran's tragic death who was supposed to celebrate his 18th birthday today."
He added that returning the body "was the least that could be done to bring some consolation to his home," and thanked "everyone who was involved in closing this sad circle in the last 24 hours."
The leader of the Druze community, Sheikh Mowafeq Tarif, praised those involved in returning Ferro's body including "the IDF, the Israeli security forces, the Palestinian Authority and its security force and many others who got involved and solved the issue after a nerve-wrecking day and a half for the family and for the whole community."
Sheikh Tarif added that "as these moments our heart is with the family which is grieving the difficult loss and is forced to bury him on his birthday. May he rest in peace. In the name of the entire Druze community, we appreciate the general empathy for the family concerning this very human issue."
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Ferro had been traveling in a friend's vehicle on Tuesday when the two were involved in a traffic accident. They were rushed to the Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin. While his friend was later moved to Israel for treatment via a military helicopter, Palestinian medical officials believed that Ferro's transfer would endanger his life. As a result, he remained at Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin, where he was later kidnapped.
According to a security officialin the security establishment, the claims made by some of Ferro's relatives, according to which he was abducted from the hospital before his death was determined, will be investigated by the army.
The official said that Israel did not negotiate with the kidnappers, and instead a dialogue took place with the PA.
"There was no negotiation. We let everyone understand that we want the body and will return it," he added, noting that they applied pressure on the PA. The official also said that Israel made it clear to the PA that it could either act to return the body "or we will go in and take it on our own."
However, yesterday, in conversations with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Ghassan Alian, Ferro's uncle said that Ferro's family doesn't want Israel to risk soldiers in order to retrieve the body: "We're willing to wait a few more days, I don't want another mother in Israel to cry."
The official also added that the PA had proved its desire to resolve the situation and that it had "demonstrated control on the ground." According to the official, the Palestinian public and the residents of Jenin felt embarrassed by the kidnapping of Ferro's body and the civil sanctions they applied on the gunmen were helpful.
Jenin's governor Akram Rajoub also told Israel-based Arabic station Radio Alshams that the Palestinian side was more concerned with "damaging the social fabric" between Palestinians and the Druze community in Israel, "as well as the consequences for Arab society [in Israel]" than any potential army raid on Jenin.
On Wednesday night, demonstrators gathered in the Druze city of Daliat al-Carmel to protests Ferro's kidnapping. The demonstrators called to actively struggle against what they see as a humiliation. The demonstrators blocked Route 6 for a stretch of several kilometers in Israel's north, forcing the mayor of Daliat al-Carmel, Rafik Halabi, to try to disperse the protestors himself.
Palestinian sources told Haaretz that the body was transferred with no prior warning and without the presence of the media.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz thanked the Palestinian Authority "for its effort to return Tiran Ferro home to his family. This was a basic humanitarian step after a low and inhumane act."
Yasmin, Ferro's sister, thanked those involved in the return of the body noting that her brother was supposed to celebrate his 18th birthday today. "He told my mother that he wanted to have a barbecue. She told him that it would rain. He said, mother, prepare everything and I will celebrate with everyone outside. Now his friends have all come to honor him outside but only to console us for his death."