A Tel Aviv court has ruled that Eitan Biran, six (centre), must be returned to his family in Italy after his grandfather flew him to Israel in the wake of a cable car crash that killed his parents and sibling
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An Israeli court has ordered that a six-year-old boy who survived a cable car crash in Italy be returned to his relatives there amid a bitter custody battle between them and his family in Israel.

The court declared today that Eitan Biran must be returned to ‘the place of his normal residence in Italy’ and ordered his grandfather, who had flown the boy to Israel against the wishes of his family members in Italy, to pay around $20,000 (£14,500) in expenses and lawyers’ fees.

Eitan’s parents and younger sibling were among the 14 people killed in May when a cable car slammed into a mountainside in northern Italy and has been the focus of a custody battle between his maternal grandparents in Israel and his paternal relatives in Italy.

Eitan’s paternal relatives say he was taken without their knowledge and had filed a legal complaint in Italy seeking his return.

An Israeli judge concluded today that Eitan’s relocation to Israel was unlawful and violated the guardianship rights of Aya Biran-Nirko, his paternal aunt in Italy, to whom the boy will be returned. 

A Tel Aviv court has ruled that Eitan Biran, six (centre), must be returned to his family in Italy after his grandfather flew him to Israel in the wake of a cable car crash that killed his parents and sibling

A Tel Aviv court has ruled that Eitan Biran, six (centre), must be returned to his family in Italy after his grandfather flew him to Israel in the wake of a cable car crash that killed his parents and sibling

Fourteen people, including Eitan Biran's Israeli parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, were killed in the accident in Italy's north-western Piedmont region in May. After the accident, Eitan had been airlifted to hospital in critical condition

Fourteen people, including Eitan Biran’s Israeli parents, younger brother and great-grandparents, were killed in the accident in Italy’s north-western Piedmont region in May. After the accident, Eitan had been airlifted to hospital in critical condition 

Eitan's grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, defended his decision to spirit the boy away, saying it was in the child's best interests despite his paternal family in Italy disapproving of the decision

Eitan’s grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, defended his decision to spirit the boy away, saying it was in the child’s best interests despite his paternal family in Italy disapproving of the decision

Eitan will be returned to live with his paternal aunt, Israeli-born doctor Aya Biran-Nirko (pictured), close to the city of Pavia

Eitan will be returned to live with his paternal aunt, Israeli-born doctor Aya Biran-Nirko (pictured), close to the city of Pavia

Eitan’s grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, has defended his decision to spirit the boy away, saying it was in the child’s best interests.

He drove Eitan to Switzerland without the other relatives’ knowledge before flying him back to Israel.

Eitan and his parents were living in Italy at the time of the accident, and after his release from a Turin hospital following weeks of treatment, Italian juvenile court officials ruled the child would live with a paternal aunt, Aya Biran, near Pavia, in northern Italy.

In Monday’s ruling, Judge Iris Ilotovich-Segal, of the Tel Aviv family court, said Eitan’s residence was in Italy, where his family moved when he was only a month old.

She concluded that his relocation to Israel was unlawful and violated the guardianship rights of his aunt.

Eitan's maternal grandfather Shmulik Peleg (pictured at court) organised the boy's transportation to Israel despite an Italian court ruling the child would live with his paternal aunt in Italy. An Israeli judge concluded today that Eitan's relocation to Israel was unlawful and violated the guardianship rights of his aunt

Eitan’s maternal grandfather Shmulik Peleg (pictured at court) organised the boy’s transportation to Israel despite an Italian court ruling the child would live with his paternal aunt in Italy. An Israeli judge concluded today that Eitan’s relocation to Israel was unlawful and violated the guardianship rights of his aunt

The judge also called on the family to reconcile, saying ‘there is supreme importance in focusing on the medical and emotional condition of the minor and giving him the support, treatment and embrace he needs following the tragedy that befell him and his family’. 

Eitan’s paternal relatives welcomed the ruling in a statement, saying ‘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.’

Meanwhile, the boy’s maternal family in Israel said it plans to appeal the decision.

The court ruling dealt only with the issue of how Eitan was taken out of Italy, without considering what was best for his future, they said in a statement.

‘Sadly, the options and solutions that were raised regarding the minor’s connection with both families were not fully exhausted,’ they said.

‘The family is determined to continue to fight in all possible ways for the good of Eitan, his wellbeing, and his right to grow up in Israel as his parents wished.’

Before judges ordered the sides to stop talking to the media, Peleg told Israel's Channel 12 in September that his grandson was 'in the place where he is supposed to be, in his home, in Israel.'

Before judges ordered the sides to stop talking to the media, Peleg told Israel’s Channel 12 in September that his grandson was ‘in the place where he is supposed to be, in his home, in Israel.’

In this file photo taken on October 10, 2021, Aya Biran (centre), paternal aunt of Eitan Biran who was the sole survivor of a deadly cable car crash in Italy, arrives at the court in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv

In this file photo taken on October 10, 2021, Aya Biran (centre), paternal aunt of Eitan Biran who was the sole survivor of a deadly cable car crash in Italy, arrives at the court in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv

The case has stirred emotions in Israel, with some pro-Peleg protesters insisting it was wrong to send a Jewish child out of Israel.

Before judges ordered the sides to stop talking to the media, Peleg told Israel’s Channel 12 in September that his grandson was ‘in the place where he is supposed to be, in his home, in Israel.’

Eitan and his parents, Amit Biran and Tal Peleg, had been living in Italy, where Amit Biran was studying medicine, together with their other child, Tom.

Eitan suffered severe chest and abdominal injuries and spent a week in intensive care after the May accident that occurred when a cable snapped on the aerial tram bringing weekend visitors to the top of the Piedmont region’s Mottarone mountain.

The accident was one of Italy’s worst in over two decades.

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