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Cable car crash survivor boy cannot stay in Israel, court rules

Eitan Biran, 6, was the sole survivor of the accident and is now at the centre of an international custody dispute

Michael Daventry is foreign editor of Jewish News

Eitan Biran (lower right) was the only survivor of the accident that killed his parents and brother
Eitan Biran (lower right) was the only survivor of the accident that killed his parents and brother

A six-year-old Israeli boy at the centre of a bitter custody battle must be returned to his paternal aunt in Italy within a fortnight, an Israeli appeals court has ruled.

Judges upheld an earlier ruling that Eitan Biran, the sole survivor of a horrific accident on an Italian mountain cable car in May, had his “regular residence” in Italy.

Eitan became the focus of a cross-border custody battle after his paternal aunt accused his maternal grandfather Shmuel Peleg of abducting him to Israel.

A Tel Aviv family court agreed last month, dismissing the grandparents’ argument that Israel could be considered Eitan’s home.

The appeals court ruling, which was issued late on Thursday, came after an Italian court issued an international arrest warrant for Peleg.

Peleg has defended his decision to whisk Eitan to Switzerland in a car, without the other relatives’ knowledge, before taking him on board a private jet to Israel.

Both of Eitan’s parents were killed in the accident near Lake Maggiore in May, along with his great-grandparents and two-year-old brother.

Eitan suffered severe injuries including multiple broken bones but appears to have survived because of his father, who cushioned his fall.

He left hospital several weeks later and was put by Italian authorities into the care of his paternal aunt Aya Biran-Nirko.

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