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Terror fighter killed near Jenin helped plan abduction of Israeli’s body — report

Islamic Jihad commander Mohammed Ayman Saadi said to have been present when gunmen snatched Druze teen Tiran Fero’s body from hospital, directed talks that led to its release

Tiran Fero. (Courtesy)
Tiran Fero. (Courtesy)

A senior Palestinian terror operative killed during overnight clashes with Israeli troops near Jenin helped mastermind the recent kidnapping of Israeli teenager Tiran Fero’s body from a hospital in the West Bank city, according to a report Thursday.

Fero, a 17-year-old member of the Druze minority, was critically injured in a car crash in Jenin and taken to a hospital there, where he died and his body was snatched by unidentified gunmen.

Mohammed Ayman Saadi, a field commander for Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was present during last week’s abduction, the Ynet news site reported. He was involved in the act’s planning and in the decision where to hide the body, and directed the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority to release it, the report said.

Those talks, coupled with Israeli threats and diplomatic efforts, led to the teenager’s body being released some 30 hours later. He was buried shortly after in a funeral attended by thousands, on what would have been his 18th birthday.

Security officials have said the suspects sought the release of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel or the bodies of deceased Palestinian terrorists being held by Israel in exchange for Fero, who was a senior in high school.

Along with Saadi, Na’im Zubeidi from the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades was killed during the pre-dawn raid near Jenin. Zubeidi is a cousin of Zakaria Zubeidi, a notorious Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorist who masterminded attacks during the Second Intifada and managed to briefly escape from Israeli prison last year.

A report last week said the head of the armed group that kidnapped Fero’s body was related to Zakaria Zubeidi, but he was affiliated with PIJ. Various armed factions are known to work together in Jenin against the Israel Defense Forces.

Photos Thursday from the funeral procession in Jenin for Zubeidi and Saadi showed both their bodies draped in PIJ flags.

Palestinians carry the bodies of Naim Jamal Zubaidi and Muhammad Ayman Saadi, both covered with flags of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group, during their funeral procession in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, December 1, 2022. The two were killed in overnight clashes with Israeli forces. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

A joint statement on the raid by the IDF and Shin Bet security agency — which described Saadi and Zubeidi as senior terror operatives in their 20s who served time in Israeli jails for security offenses — did not mention the recent kidnapping.

According to the statement, Saadi was a “prominent PIJ military operative” responsible for a series of shooting attacks against troops, and arming other operatives, under the direction of the PIJ leadership.

The statement said Zubeidi was also responsible for numerous shootings at Israeli forces in the West Bank.

Hebrew media reported that security officials are concerned that terror groups in the Gaza Strip could launch rockets at Israel in response.

Tensions have been high in the West Bank over the past year, with the IDF conducting an ongoing major anti-terror offensive mostly focused on the northern West Bank to deal with a series of Palestinian attacks that have left 31 people in Israel and the West Bank dead since the start of the year.

The operation has netted more than 2,500 arrests in near-nightly raids, but has also left more than 150 Palestinians dead, many of them — but not all — while carrying out attacks or during clashes with security forces.

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