After the cable car accident in Italy: family fights over surviving boys

Status: 13.09.2021 4:30 p.m.

Six-year-old Eitan was the only one who survived the cable car accident on Lake Maggiore – now relatives are arguing about the boy. The Italian authorities are even investigating child abduction.

By Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Studio Rome

Today was supposed to be Eitan’s first day of school, in a primary school in Pavia in northern Italy. Where his aunt Aya Biran has been looking after him since the six-year-old boy was the only one to survive the cable car accident on Lake Maggiore in May. But now Eitan’s aunt is in tears: “Eitan has not returned home. He has not returned! His cousins ​​were expecting him for dinner.”

At this point the boy was apparently already on a plane heading for Israel. The Italian authorities are investigating child abduction. It is the preliminary climax of a bitter family dispute over Eitan, who was traumatized after the cable car crash and who lost his parents, brother and two great-grandparents in the accident on Mottarone Mountain.

Eitan’s parents, his brother and eleven other people were killed on Pentecost Sunday when a rope broke on the cable car at Monte Mottarone.

Image: EPA

Bitter argument about the traumatized boy

In the current conflict there are on the one hand the relatives of the father, who decided to study medicine in Italy because he wanted to leave Israel behind. On the other hand are the mother’s relatives who live in Israel.

After the accident, a family court in Turin had granted custody of Eitan’s aunt Aya Biran, the sister of the late father, who works as a doctor in Pavia. She says she has been at his side since Eitan woke up from a coma in the hospital. “I can never replace Eitan’s mom. But I’m there for him. I’m there and by his bed when he has his nightmares,” she says.

Grandfather took Eitan to Israel in a private plane

Eitan’s trip to Israel at the weekend is like a thriller. The maternal grandfather, Shmuel Peleg, had picked Eitan up late that morning. Peleg lives in Israel, but has stayed almost permanently in a hotel in Italy since the cable car accident, according to Italian media reports. Eitan’s aunt confirms that his grandfather picked up the boy several times in the past to spend a few hours with him. This time he had promised Eitan to buy toys for him.

Instead, as the Italian investigators have reconstructed, the grandfather drove with him in a car to Switzerland. There he got on a private plane with the boy in Lugano and flew to Tel Aviv.

Aunt: “Didn’t kidnap Eitan”

In Israel, relatives defend themselves against accusations that they kidnapped Eitan. His maternal aunt, Gali Peled, told a radio station: “We did not kidnap Eitan. We brought him back home. We were forced to take this step because we did not receive any information about his health or mental state. We became hardly possible to meet him. If so, they were short meetings that only took place with the approval of the judge. “

The Israeli authorities, however, are evidently unwilling to accept this reading. The TV station “Channel 12 News” said: Lawyers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice came to the conclusion that the grandfather was guilty of child abduction – because he brought the boy to Israel against the will of his legal guardians.

Aya Biran wants to bring Eitan back to Italy

Eitan’s aunt Aya Biran in Italy said: She hoped that the cooperation of the Italian and Israeli authorities would mean that Eitan could soon return home – to Italy. There he should go to school and continue to receive medical and psychological care. So that he can someday overcome the trauma of the gondola crash and the current family quarrel.

After cable car accident: six-year-old boy kidnapped to Israel?

Jörg Seisselberg, ARD Rome, September 13th, 2021 3:40 p.m.

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