The uncle of an 18-year-old Israeli who was snatched by Palestinian gunmen from a hospital in the northern West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday said his nephew was still alive and connected to a ventilator when he was taken.
“This is murder. It’s a terrorist attack. He was sedated and on life support, he was alive,” Edri Fero said in an interview with the Kan public broadcaster on Wednesday.
Tiran Fero from the Druze-majority town of Daliyat al-Karmel was critically injured in a car crash in Jenin and taken to a hospital in the Palestinian city due to his severe condition.
Initial reports by the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian media indicated that Fero had already died when he was snatched by unidentified gunmen.
His uncle’s testimony, however, suggested otherwise.
“They were shooting in the air and shouting in Arabic… nobody dared to stop them,” Edri Fero told Kan. “They disconnected him from the machines and tossed him into a car.”
החוטפים בג'נין לא מוכנים לשחרר את הגופה
של טירן פרו בן ה-18, ומסלקים את האמבולנס שהגיע לקחת אותה.. pic.twitter.com/tyvRpWRsyh
— ????News (@kisis007) November 23, 2022
In an earlier interview with Kan, Edri Fero described 20-30 gunmen storming the hospital.
“We saw them with our own eyes. They were armed, they came as if it was the intifada,” he said, referencing Palestinian violence in the 1980s and early 2000s.
“If we hadn’t complied, we would have been kidnapped ourselves. We barely escaped and hid somewhere until [Israeli] security forces got us out. We were lucky. It was like a scene from a movie, hard to describe,” he said.
Addressing the car crash his nephew was involved in, Edri said Tiran “had traveled to Jenin to fix his car with a friend,” adding that “he must have lost control of the vehicle on the way there.”
Tiran’s friend was transferred to a nearby checkpoint before being rushed by the army to a hospital within Israel.
Several Palestinian sources have indicated that Tiran’s body is being held in the Jenin Refugee Camp.
A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that the suspects snatched the body, thinking Tiran was an undercover Israeli soldier.
Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials are involved in the efforts to return Fero’s body to his family, along with Tiran’s family, the mayor of Daliyat al-Karmel, the Druze community’s spiritual leader, and the mayor of Jenin.
Speaking to Kan on Wednesday, Tiran’s father Hussam said the entire Israeli security establishment was in contact with the family.
“They’re trying to do everything to get him out,” he said. “He’s just a little boy, he hasn’t even finished school yet. He’s not a soldier.”
Another of Tiran’s uncles, identified by Kan as Rafik, told the broadcaster that the family has placed all responsibility for the incident on the Palestinian Authority.
On Wednesday morning, the military’s liaison to the Palestinians announced that the Jalamah and Salem crossings in the northern West Bank would be shuttered until further notice following the incident.
The checkpoints are predominantly used by Arab Israelis who travel to the Palestinian city of Jenin and the surrounding area for business or leisure, and by Palestinians who need to travel to Israel for work.
The closure is expected to take an economic toll on the Jenin area.
The Jenin area has been seen as a major hotspot for terror in recent months. Palestinian gunmen, mostly in the northern West Bank, have repeatedly targeted troops conducting arrest raids, as well as military posts, soldiers operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements and civilians on the roads.
The incident in Jenin came as the military pressed on with a major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on Jenin and Nablus, in response to a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 29 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.
The operation has netted more than 2,000 arrests in near-nightly raids but has also left over 130 Palestinians dead, many of them — though not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.