Tiran Fero, a Druze teenager whose remains were snatched by terrorists from a hospital in the West Bank, was laid to rest on Thursday afternoon, hours after his body was returned to his family.
Thousands of mourners walked in Fero’s funeral procession, in his majority-Druze hometown of Daliyat al-Karmel in northern Israel, on what would have been his 18th birthday.
“It is incredibly sad that we are accompanying him to his final resting place instead of celebrating his big dreams,” Fero’s uncle Eddy said at the funeral, according to Channel 13. “We are now starting to internalize this disaster. I hope that our entire family can survive this disaster and mourning.”
Fero’s uncle also pleaded for peace in his nephew’s eulogy. “We are a peaceful group,” he said of the Druze minority in Israel. “I ask that everyone act peacefully after the funeral. There should be no more lives lost., Let us return to a quiet life.”
Mayor Rafik Halabi, addressing the mourners, described Fero as a lover of life with big plans for the future. “Instead of accompanying him to his wedding, we wrapped him in shrouds,” he said, echoing what Fero’s father said earlier Thursday about the painful irony of burying his son on what would have been his birthday.
Fero was critically injured in a car crash in Jenin and taken to a hospital in the Palestinian city on Tuesday. He died at the Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, and later his body was snatched by unidentified gunmen, according to the IDF and Palestinian media reports.
Though his family claimed that Palestinian gunmen detached him from life support when they grabbed him from the hospital, the military and a senior defense source insisted he was already dead when he was taken.
His body was returned to his family in Israel early Thursday morning after being held by terrorists in the West Bank for around 30 hours. The body was handed over at the Salem crossing near Jenin following intense negotiations between high-level governmental and security officials in the Israeli and the Palestinian Authority governments, reports said.
Unnamed security officials said that the suspects had been demanding 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.
But Israel ended up not giving anything in exchange for the body, a senior defense source told reporters Thursday morning, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We held no negotiations with those who were holding the body. We gave nothing in return,” the source said. “We clarified that this body was going back to the family. The Palestinian Authority put pressure to end the saga quickly because it was embarrassed, and in Jenin, the kidnappers lost support after the public understood it would be paying a heavy financial price.”
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.