(Photo credit: Mamoun Wazwaz/APA)
Three Israeli soldiers were apprehended on 28 November for allegedly throwing an explosive device at a Palestinian house in the West Bank city of Bethlehem the night before, the military announced in a statement.
A Palestinian eyewitness residing in the area reported the alleged bombing attempt, and the soldiers were later taken into custody by the Israeli military police. It remains unclear why that particular Palestinian home was singled out.
No injuries or damages were reported and the Israeli army failed to elaborate further, yet Hebrew media reports state that the three occupation soldiers involved were members of Israel’s Druze community.
This has prompted many to speculate that the soldiers were attempting a retaliation to an incident that took place last week, when the body of an Israeli Druze teenager who was killed in a car crash was seized by resistance fighters linked to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement.
The body of Tiran Fero, the 17-year-old Israeli, was abducted by the resistance fighters on 23 November from a hospital in Jenin and taken to the city’s refugee camp. According to some reports, Fero was alive and was taken off life support before being removed from the hospital.
“The demand is to the Palestinian Authority (PA) to pressure the occupation government (Israel) to release the bodies of the 148 martyrs that the occupation is holding,” a PIJ source told media that day following a meeting with the PA and other factions. Palestinian resistance groups have previously used the bodies of Israelis as bargaining chips to pressure Israel into releasing prisoners or dead resistance fighters.
Fero’s body was eventually released on 24 November following intense negotiations and PA-led mediation between Israel and the resistance. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz offered his thanks to the PA for their “humanitarian gesture” in helping secure the release of the Israeli teen.
Israel has refrained from admitting whether or not any prisoner or corpse exchange deal between Tel Aviv and the resistance factions is on the table. Speaking to reporters on 24 November, an Israeli military official said that there were two options being studied to resolve the issue.
The first was a diplomatic approach through the PA, the official said, and the second “was going in for a military operation in the city [and] in the [Jenin] camp,” which he said would have been “very, very violent.” Israeli raids on Jenin and its camp are notorious for their excessive brutality.
Tensions have been simmering in the West Bank for some time now, especially since the Israeli election earlier this month, which is expected to bring in to power the most far-right and extreme government in Israel’s history.
Oppression and violence against Palestinians are at an all-time high, and resistance is continually on the rise. On the same day Fero’s body was seized, twin blasts rocked the occupied city of Jerusalem, killing one settler, injuring 22, and leaving the Israeli security establishment in a state of panic.
The return of Fero’s body to Israel through a diplomatic process avoided an explosion of the already very volatile situation, as Tel Aviv has been known to go to war to retrieve captives – even dead ones.