Israeli boy who survived cable car crash must return to Italy, court orders

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Israeli boy who survived cable car crash must return to Italy, court orders

Tel Aviv family court says the six-year-old must live with his maternal aunt after he was 'abducted' to Israel

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 who survived a horrific cable car crash on an Italian mountain must be returned to relatives of his father in Italy, a court has ordered.

The family court in Tel Aviv found Eitan Biran’s “regular residence” was in Italy and that he had lived there since his parents moved there from Israel when he was only a few weeks old.

Eitan had become the focus of a cross-border custody battle after his maternal grandparents took him 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.

But during a visit his maternal grandfather drove him to Switzerland, without the aunt’s consent, and chartered a private jet from there to Israel.

On Monday the Tel Aviv court dismissed the grandfather’s argument that because his parents had intended to return from Italy, Israel should be considered his home.

The Israeli ruling said the boy’s aunt had been granted guardianship rights by an Italian court, which allowed her to argue successfully that his transfer to Israel by the grandfather had violated international agreements.

But it said it hoped that the rift between the two sides of Eitan’s family could be healed: “The boy is the only survivor of the cable car accident and the message of his late parents’ ‘spiritual will’ would be for their families to set the right path on which the boy can tread peacefully and safely between them.”

Prosecutors in northern Italy had begun an abduction investigation after Eitan was taken last month.

His aunt’s family had argued it was an infringement of the 1980 Hague Abduction Convention.

There was no immediate comment from his maternal grandparents, but Eitan’s paternal relatives said in a statement: “there are no victors and no vanquished, no winners and no losers.

“There is only Eitan. All that we ask now is that Eitan returns home quickly, to friends and to school, to his family and especially to the therapeutic and educational frameworks that he needs.”

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