Eitan Biran: the survivor of a cable car accident at the center of a custody battle | Italy

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That only one person survived when a cable car crashed in northern Italy was nothing short of a miracle.

Eitan Biran, five years old at the time of the crash, was reportedly saved by the protective embrace of his father, Amit, as the cable car collapsed to the ground.

The tragedy has been one of the most heartbreaking stories in Italy so far this year.

Fifteen people were inside the cabin when she left the town of Stresa on Lake Maggiore for the 20-minute ride to the summit of Monte Mottarone on May 23.

It was the first sunny weekend since Italy began easing restrictions on coronaviruses in late April, including opening up to travelers from Israel.

Just seconds before the cabin reached Monte Mottarone, popular with families for Alpyland Amusement Park, a lead wire broke, causing it to back up before falling 20 meters into a wooded area below. .

All but two of the passengers, including Eitan’s parents, his two-year-old brother Tom, and his great-grandparents, who were from Israel, were killed on impact. The bodies of some of the victims were found trapped in the crumpled cabin; others had been thrown into the woods.

Eitan was taken by air ambulance to a hospital in Turin, suffering from injuries to his head and legs. Restless and calling his mother, doctors had to sedate him. Mattia Zorloni, who was the same age as Eitan at the time of the crash, was also airlifted from the crash site and taken to the same hospital, but died of his injuries soon after.

The next day, as the people of Stresa absorbed the shock of the tragedy, they kept coming back to Eitan – “the little boy saved by his father’s arms” – wondering what kind of life he would have from now on.

The accident not only killed Eitan’s parents, brother and great-grandparents, but also tore the rest of his family apart amid a fierce custody battle, which last week led to the kidnapping of the boy by his maternal grandfather and his transfer to Israel.

Eitan was born in Israel but lived in Pavia, a town in the Lombardy region, since he was 18 months old. Her father was a doctor and her mother, Tal Peleg-Biran, had a degree in psychology.

In the days following the accident, a Turin court granted temporary custody to Eitan’s paternal aunt, Aya Biran-Nirko, also a doctor living in Pavia. The early custody decision was necessary so that Eitan, who has an Italian passport and an Israeli passport, could continue to receive necessary medical treatment. But the move was challenged by relatives on his mother’s side in Israel, and as Eitan moved into his aunt’s house, where he had been living since being released from hospital in June, tensions between the two. family sides have intensified.

In August, it was announced at a press conference in Israel that Eitan’s maternal aunt, Gali Peleg, had started adoption proceedings. His lawyer, Ronen Dlayahu, accused relatives in Italy of holding Eitan “hostage”. He said: “Eitan was taken away by a family who did not know him, who had never been close to him before. “

Eitan’s grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, who this week was under house arrest for five days in Tel Aviv as part of an investigation into the alleged kidnapping, has reportedly moved to Italy after the tragedy. He was granted visitation rights to Eitan, who in recent months was undergoing treatment for his physical injuries and mental trauma caused by the accident.

Peleg was also in possession of Eitan’s Israeli passport and refused to give it up, although a judge gave him a deadline of August 30 due to fears that Eitan would be taken out of Italy.

Although Peleg missed the deadline, there has been no revocation of his visitation rights.

On the morning of September 11, Peleg went to look for Eitan, telling him that he would take him to lunch and buy some toys. As he left the house with his walker, Eitan cheerfully said goodbye, promising to buy toys for his cousins ​​as well.

He was not brought home in the early evening as agreed. Instead, he was reportedly taken across the border to Lugano in Switzerland before being flown by private plane to Tel Aviv. Gali Peleg has denied that Eitan was kidnapped. “We will not use that word,” she told Israeli media. “What happened was we brought Eitan home.”

Biran-Nirko, who has filed a petition in a Tel Aviv court for Eitan’s return to Italy and is preparing to travel to Israel, first spoke to the press the day after his alleged kidnapping. She said that Eitan could only fall asleep if she held his hand and every time she left the room, she would give him her glasses to reassure him of his return. Biran-Nirko has denied accusations that she was an “unknown” to Eitan before the tragedy. “This is wrong – our families shared each other’s lives,” she said.

Last Monday, Eitan was due to start school, the one his parents had enrolled him in before their death. The Italian press published photos of his empty school bench. With the custody battle far from over, Eitan’s office could sit empty for some time.

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