An Israeli man who abducted his two young daughters to Israel was ordered to immediately return them to their mother's custody in the United States – the Kfar Saba Family Court ruled on Sunday afternoon in accordance with the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.
The lawsuit in the case of the two young girls, aged nine and eleven, was brought to the court by their mother, who resides in the US.
The couple wed in 1997, and divorced a decade later. In their marital settlement agreement it was ruled that the parents would share custody of their children – with the father retaining physical custody and the mother granted visitation rights. It was further determined that the girls would spend all Jewish holidays with their father and all Christian holidays with their mother.
But despite the custody agreement, in April 2007 the father took his daughters to Israel without their mother's knowledge. The prosecution claimed that the father had abducted the girls to Israel in a bid to evade trial in the United States on charges of drug possession. He sent the girls to school with written permission to be excused early for a dentist appointment, but instead headed to the airport after picking them up.
Following the kidnapping the mother brought the matter to a US court, which ruled ex parte she would subsequently be granted sole custody.
The father denied he had abducted his children, and claimed that returning the girls to their mother would put them at grave risk due to her abuse of alcohol and drugs, and declared her an unfit parent. He claimed that in the past his ex-wife had dangerously neglected the girls, both physically and emotionally.
The father pled with the court to take into account the wishes of the two young girls, claiming they refuse to live with their mother due to her lifestyle and prefer the stability of their new lives in Israel.
He did not deny that he is considered a criminal fugitive in the US over drug charges.
Prior to ruling Judge Zvi Weizman appointed a clinical psychologist and licensed therapist to determine whether the girls would be harmed by their return to America. Judge Weizman also met with the girls himself.
In his ruling the judge wrote that the psychologist did not believe the girls would be at risk upon their return to the US. He added that the court was not ignoring the fact that the father would be arrested immediately upon arrival in the States, but that this was insufficient ground to keep the girls in Israel. The judge also said that it was his impression that the children's stated objection to being returned to their mother was influenced by their father and his family.
Ultimately the court ruled that the defense was unable to establish that any of the exceptional conditions stipulated in the Convention existed in this case, and in light of the blatant manner in which the father carried out the kidnapping ordered the children's immediate return to their mother.
The judge ruled that the girls are to be returned to the US within two weeks' time, accompanied by their father, or a relative or a flight attendant, and in coordination with their mother.