Eitan Biran

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Eitan Biran
Born 2015 (age 5–6)
Nationality Israel, Italy
Known for subject of an international custody dispute

Eitan Biran is a child, with both Italian and Israeli citizenship, who was the sole survivor of a cable car disaster, in Italy.[1] In May, 2021, Biran was injured, and his parents, his brother, two great-grandparents, and nine other passengers, were killed, when a cable car plunged to the ground.[2] The Cable car had almost reached its destination, a peak overlooking Lake Maggiore, in Piedmont, when a technical failure saw it plunge 60 feet to the ground, and then tumble down the slope.

Biran's survival is attributed to his father wrapping him in his arms, to protect him, and is widely described as a miracle.[3][4][5]

Italian authorities were not immediately able to determine Biran's identity.[1] Biran's aunt, Aya Biran, who, like Biran and his parents, was a resident of Italy, was granted custody of Biran, shortly after the accident.[6] However, his maternal grandfather, Schmulik Peleg, challenged this custody arrangement.[7] He planned to bring the boy to Israel, to adopt him.[8] During a visit with Biran, in September 2021, his grandfather Peleg, defied a court order that required Biran to remain in Italy, and took the boy to Israel.[9] His seizure was a contravention to an international agreement on the rights of children.

Biran's parents were Israelis, and he was born in Israel, but his family traveled to Italy, when he was two months old, so his father could attend medical school. Biran spoke Italian, and had lived his life in Italy, until he grandfather seized him.

In September 2021 an Israeli court convened to decide who should get custody.[10][9] On October 25, 2021, the Israeli court awarded custody to Biran's paternal aunt, Aya, and directed Peleg to pay her legal expenses.[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gaia Pianigiani (2021-05-23). "Cable Car Plunges in Italy, Killing at Least 14 People". The New York Times: p. A8. Archived from the original on 2021-10-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20211027063709/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/world/europe/italy-cable-car.html. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "The two children rescued from the wreckage of the cable car were flown by helicopter to a pediatric hospital in Turin, 80 miles south of Stresa. One of them died hours later. Authorities were still trying to determine their ages and identities." 
  2. Elisabetta Povoledo (2021-05-26). "Cable-Car Tragedy Shakes a Town Already Wounded by the Pandemic". The New York Times (Stresa, Italy): p. A10. Archived from the original on 2021-09-28. https://web.archive.org/web/20210928120559/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/26/world/europe/cable-car-italy.html. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "All but one died. The sole survivor, 5-year-old Eitan Biran, lost both of his parents, his 2-year-old brother and two great-grandparents." 
  3. Angela Giuffrida (2021-09-17). "Eitan Biran: the cable car crash survivor at centre of custody battle". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2021-10-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20211027033538/https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/sep/17/eitan-biran-the-cable-car-crash-survivor-at-centre-of-custody-battle. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "That a single person survived when a cable car crashed in northern Italy was nothing short of a miracle." 
  4. Barbie Latza Nadeau; Noga Tarnopolsky (2021-09-13). "Miracle Survivor of Italian Cable Car Crash, 6, ‘Kidnapped’ by ex-IDF Grandpa and Taken to Israel". Daily Beast (Rome, Italy). Archived from the original on 2021-10-31. https://web.archive.org/web/20211031175721/https://www.thedailybeast.com/eitan-biran-miracle-survivor-of-italian-cable-car-crash-kidnapped-by-ex-idf-grandpa-and-taken-to-israel. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "But one child, Eitan Biran, a dual Italian-Israeli citizen who was 5 at the time and living in Italy with his parents and little brother, was pulled out of the twisted metal alive in what was hailed as a miracle." 
  5. Eldad Black (2021-05-26). "Bodies of Israelis killed in cable car crash in Italy flown home, boy continues 'miraculous' recovery". Israel Hayom. Archived from the original on 2021-10-31. https://web.archive.org/web/20211031174744/https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/05/26/bodies-of-israelis-from-italy-disaster-fly-home-boy-continues-miraculous-recovery/. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "Doctors decided to wake him up from his induced coma on Tuesday and reported that his internal organs were functioning properly, as well as his nervous system. 'This is a great miracle,' sources that have been in contact with the family and doctors told Israel Hayom. The boy also opened his eyes after the medication receded and coughed, and briefly saw the psychologist and aunt that had been placed near him to help him cope with the loss and long rehabilitation." 
  6. Elisabetta Povoledo; Jonathan Shamir (2021-09-13). "Lone Survivor of Italian Cable Car Crash Is Subject of Custody Battle". The New York Times (Rome, Italy). Archived from the original on 2021-10-26. https://web.archive.org/web/20211026101742/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/world/europe/italy-israel-custody-cable-car.html. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "Aya Biran, an aunt who lives near Pavia, a town in northern Italy, was granted custody of the child by a court in Turin in May, while he was still in the hospital with critical injuries." 
  7. "Eitan Biran: Italy investigates 'kidnap' of cable car crash survivor". BBC News. 2021-09-13. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-58541644. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "Aya Biran-Nirko called it 'another tragedy for Eitan', saying he 'thought he was going out to buy toys with his grandfather'. She added: 'I'm sure the Israeli authorities will cooperate to bring him back'." 
  8. Audrey Horowitz (2021-10-25). "Israeli court orders boy in custody fight returned to Italy". The Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Tel Aviv). Archived from the original on 2021-10-31. https://web.archive.org/web/20211031182342/https://www.therecord.com/ts/news/world/middleeast/2021/10/25/israeli-court-rules-on-boy-who-survived-cable-car-crash.html. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "His grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, has defended his decision to spirit the boy away, saying it was in the child’s best interest. He drove Biran to Switzerland without the other relatives’ knowledge before flying him back to Israel." 
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Hearings resume in custody fight over cable car survivor". Associated Press (Jerusalem). 2021-10-08. Archived from the original on 2021-10-23. https://web.archive.org/web/20211023170225/https://apnews.com/article/europe-italy-middle-east-israel-65497c87e964fa32fb1937812f036039. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "The child has been at the center of a custody battle between his maternal grandparents in Israel and paternal relatives in Italy ever since his grandfather, Shmulik Peleg, spirited him away to Israel in September. Relatives in Italy say he was taken without their knowledge while the relatives in Israel insist they are acting in his best interest and deny breaking the law." 
  10. Ronen Bergman; Elisabetta Povoledo (2021-09-23). "International Battle Over 6-Year-Old Cable-Car Survivor Goes to Court". The New York Times (Tel Aviv): p. A10. Archived from the original on 2021-10-26. https://web.archive.org/web/20211026180209/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/23/world/middleeast/eitan-biran-italy-israel-custody.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article. Retrieved 2021-10-31. "Three days later, an Italian court in Turin appointed his paternal aunt, Ms. Biran, as his legal guardian, a ruling challenged by the boy’s maternal relatives in Israel." 
  11. Ronen Bergman; Elisabetta Povoledo (2021-10-25). "Child Who Survived Gondola Crash Should Live in Italy, Israel Court Rules". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-10-30. https://web.archive.org/web/20211030130507/https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/25/world/middleeast/eitan-biran-israel-court.html. Retrieved 2021-10-31.