Israeli boy who survived Italy cable car crash said abducted by grandfather

Eitan Biran’s legal guardian, Aya Biran-Nirko, claims Shmuel Peleg took child to Israel; his other aunt had initiated legal proceedings to adopt him last month

The Biran family, with Eitan on the right. (Courtesy)
The Biran family, with Eitan on the right. (Courtesy)

A six-year-old Israeli boy whose family was killed in a cable car crash in the Italian mountainside in May was reportedly taken to Israel on Saturday in an alleged abduction by his grandfather, amid an escalating guardianship battle.

Fourteen people, including Eitan’s father Amit Biran, 30, mother Tal Peleg-Biran, 26, 2-year-old brother Tom, and great-grandparents Barbara and Yitzhak Cohen of Tel Aviv, 71 and 81, respectively, were killed in the May 24 accident, after a cable snapped on the aerial tram bringing weekend visitors to the top of the Piedmont region’s Mottarone Mountain. All five were buried in Israel a few days later.

Eitan Biran’s current legal guardian, Aya Biran-Nirko, the Italy-based sister of the child’s late father, Amit Biran, filed a complaint with the Italian police claiming that he was abducted by his maternal grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Eitan left his house in Fabia, northern Italy, with Peleg on Saturday morning but did not return by early evening as had been agreed, according to the report. Biran-Nirko repeatedly tried to reach Peleg until she received a message from him saying, “Eitan has returned home,” the report said.

Biran-Nirko reportedly received a message from the Pelegs’ lawyer confirming that Eitan arrived in Israel.

According to the report, the child’s travel to Israel was made possible because the Peleg family continued to hold his Israeli passport, contrary to an Italian judge’s order.

Last month, Gali Peleg, the sister of Eitan’s mother, said that she had initiated legal proceedings to adopt her nephew.

Rescuers work by the wreckage of a cable car after it collapsed near the summit of the Stresa-Mottarone line in the Piedmont region, northern Italy, Sunday, May 23, 2021. (Italian Vigili del Fuoco Firefighters via AP)

Peleg in August accused Biran-Nirko of kidnapping the boy and preventing him from having a normal childhood. Though Eitan was raised in Italy, Peleg’s husband, Ron Peri, claimed that his Israeli parents had never wanted him to grow up there and preferred he receive a Jewish education in Israel.

In June, Marcella Severino, the mayor of the town of Stresa where the cable car started out, told an Italian newspaper that Biran-Nirko was “a constant presence in the life of the child, he’s in good hands.”

Eitan suffered severe trauma in the crash and Biran-Nirko took on the task of dealing with the hospital system and his recovery, though Peri said the arrangement was meant to be temporary.

Most Popular
read more: