Tiran Fero, a Druze teenager whose remains were robbed by terrorists from a West Bank hospital, was laid to rest 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 great dreams,” Fero’s uncle Eddy said at the funeral, according to Channel 13. “We are now beginning to internalize this disaster. I hope that our entire family can survive this disaster and sorrow.”
Fero’s uncle also prayed for peace in his nephew’s eulogy. “We are a peaceful group,” he said of the Druze minority in Israel. “I ask everyone to act peacefully after the funeral. No more lives should be lost. Let us return to a quiet life.”
Addressing the mourners, Mayor Rafik Halabi 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 accident in Jenin and taken to a hospital in the Palestinian city on Tuesday. He died at Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin, and his body was later snatched by unidentified gunmen, according to reports from the IDF and Palestinian media.
Although his family claimed that Palestinian gunmen took him off 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 about 30 hours. The body was handed over at the Salem crossing near Jenin after intense negotiations between senior government and security officials in the Israeli and Palestinian Authority governments, reports said.
Unnamed security officials said the suspects had demanded the release of Palestinians jailed by Israel or the bodies of dead Palestinian terrorists held by Israel in exchange for Fero, who was a high school senior.
But Israel ended up giving nothing in exchange for the body, a senior defense source told reporters Thursday morning, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We did not conduct any negotiations with those who kept the body. We gave nothing in return, the source said. “We clarified that this body should be returned to the family. The Palestinian Authority pressed to end the saga quickly because it was embarrassing, and in Jenin the kidnappers lost support after the public understood that they would pay a high financial price.”
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.