By Duarte Mendonca and Mohammed Najib, CNN
The body of an Israeli Druze young man that was seized by Palestinian gunmen in Jenin has been transferred to his family, the Israeli military said on Thursday, adding that nothing had been given in return.
“We didn’t negotiate in any way with the gunmen that had the body,” an IDF spokesperson said during a briefing. “We didn’t give anything in return. I think at some point they understood that the consequences for this happening would have been very hard for the Jenin economy.”
Gunmen had stormed a Jenin hospital and seized the body of Tiran Ferro, who had been in a car accident in the West Bank, authorities on both sides of the conflict said Wednesday. The gunmen were demanding the return of the bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli troops, they said.
Israel closed roads in and out of Jenin on Wednesday after the body was seized, and reopened them on Thursday after it was returned.
Jenin governor Maj. Gen. Akram Rajoub told CNN that Palestinian Authority security officials had led negotiations with the gunmen who held the body.
“The PA General Intelligence Service had contacts with one of the kidnappers, which facilitated the body’s return to the General Intelligence Service headquarters in Jenin,” Rajoub said.
There is a dispute about whether Ferro was alive or dead when gunmen burst into his hospital room in Jenin and took his body.
Ferro’s father told Israeli media on Wednesday the teenager was alive and taken off life support. But Jenin governor Akram Rajoub told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was taken.
Ferro’s father said: “When we were in the hospital, we were standing in front of the intensive care unit. My son was connected to the ventilator and had a heartbeat. I was with my brother and my son, suddenly a gang of 20 masked men entered the room screaming. We stood by and there was nothing we could have done.
“They kidnapped the body in front of my eyes,” Ferro’s father told reporters on camera.
But Jenin governor Rajoub told CNN that Ferro was dead when his body was taken.
The Jenin Brigade, a Palestinian militant group based in the West Bank refugee camp, said Wednesday in a statement obtained by CNN that it was holding the body of Ferro and demanded Israel hand over all the bodies of Palestinians killed by the IDF in Israel’s possession. The group also said it had raised the state of alert among its members in anticipation of Israeli forces storming the Jenin camp.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid vowed Wednesday that “the kidnappers would pay a heavy price” if Tiran’s Ferro’s body was not returned: “Israel has proven in recent months that there is no place and no terrorist that it does not know how to reach.”
Lapid said Ferro was going to celebrate his 18th birthday on Thursday. He was a member of the Druze minority, community leaders told CNN.
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CNN’s Shira Gemer contributed reporting