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Kidnapping grandfather: ‘Eitan stopped hugging me, my heart is breaking’

Following a ruling by the Tel Aviv District Court that cable car crash survivor Eitan Biran, 6, must be returned to Italy, grandfather Shmuel Peleg has been allowed to see Eitan only at a Welfare Ministry supervised contact center, Israel Hayom reported.

Contact centers are usually reserved for non-custodial parents, nearly all of whom are fathers whose ex-wives received automatic custody and therefore refuse to finalize mutual agreements on custody and visitation or simply request that the father’s time with his children be limited and supervised.

This has been difficult for Peleg, who earlier this year lost his daughter Tal, son-in-law Amit, and grandson Tom, in the crash which orphaned Eitan.

In September, Peleg brought Eitan to Israel without the permission or knowledge of Eitan’s legal guardian, his aunt Aya Biran.

Last week, an arrest warrant has been issued against Peleg in Italy.

“Meeting Eitan with a social worker beside me the entire time gives the feeling that they view you with suspicion,” Peleg told Israel Hayom.

“Since Eitan was taken from me by court order, I felt that he was disappointed in me. He stopped hugging me and jumping on me. I see how the open, chatty child who didn’t stop talking about how happy he is to live in Israel, is closing up and turning inwards into himself. My heart is breaking. I promised Eitan that he would live with us, but the court decided otherwise.”

This week, for the first time, Shmuel spoke with Eitan about his expected return to Italy.

“I asked him gently how he feels, but Eitan closed up and said he doesn’t want to talk about it,” Peleg told Israel Hayom.

“It seems to me that he’s preparing himself to be disconnected from us. That’s his way of protecting himself. This is also how he responds when you try to talk to Eitan about his parents. I told him I will come visit him in Italy.”

Due to the international arrest warrant put out by a Pavia court, however, it is not certain that Peleg will be able to visit Italy: The moment he lands in the country, he will be arrested on suspicion of kidnapping.

When asked whether the interrogation and order in Israel were worth the risk, Peleg said, “If Eitan’s freedom means my lack of freedom, then yes. His welfare comes before all else. We had a miracle and G-d managed to save him once. I tried a second time and so far, I failed. I hope that the Supreme Court will order that Eitan remain in Israel.”

Peleg also explained why he thinks the Supreme Court might still rule differently than the lower courts.

“I hope that the Supreme Court places the child’s welfare at the center of the issue,” he told Israel Hayom.

“One day, not too far off, Eitan will read about the fight over him on Google. He’ll see there that I fought for him to the end, that at no point did I give up on him.”

Source: Arutz Sheva