'Doesn't speak Hebrew' (illustration)
Photo: Index Open

Dad in Israel, mom in Switzerland: Where will child live?

European human rights court to rule where six-year-old child, kidnapped by his mother after she divorced his now-religious father, will reside. 'I have no problem with him being raised in a religious lifestyle, but I don't want him to be religious like his father,' says mother

The custody battle between an Israeli man and a Swiss woman has reached France. The fate of the six-year-old child caught against his will in the middle of a legal battle being waged between his parents will soon be decided by the judges of the European Court of Human Rights who will rule where the child will live – be it with his father in Israel or with his mother in Switzerland.


The mother, 50, immigrated to Israel about a decade ago and fell in love with an Israel citizen. The two married, lived in Tel Aviv, and brought a son into the world six years ago. However, the love story between them came to an end three years ago after the husband became religious and joined Chabad.


The women, concerned that her son's father would try to turn her son religious, received custody of him and decided to return with him to Switzerland. The father was outraged and turned to the Swiss courts to receive custody of his son. The court ruled that the mother kidnapped her son in violation of the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. As such, the court ruled that the child be returned to Israel to his father's custody.


After a series of appeals against the ruling, a final decision was made last January that the child will be returned to Israel. Four months ago, the mother appealed to the European Court of Human Rights against the Swiss government. Here, it was ruled by a four to three majority that the child will return to Israel. The mother submitted yet another appeal. The last court hearing on the case was held Wednesday before a panel of 17 judges to decide whether the child will live his life in Israel or in Switzerland.


'Abusive to send him today to Israel'

Upon leaving the courthouse, the mother said to Ynet that she is determined to keep fighting. "The father is a violent person who threatened to kidnap our child on more than one occasion, making him not only verbally abusive, but also in his actions. Once he took the child to the street corner to convince passersby to put on phylacteries.


"Another time, he took him to a yeshiva he was studying at and just left him there an entire day. I am worried about him. I have no problem that he be brought up with a religious lifestyle. Even now, he is learning in a religious nursery school in Switzerland, but I don't want him to be as religious as his father."


A statement from the father could not be obtained. It should be noted that he, nor any representative, arrived at the hearing. The mother's representatives have not succeeded in locating him. They noted that, according to information they had, he has already remarried, had more children, divorced, married a third time, and had another child.


"It can be argued whether taking the child out of Israel was lawful or not. However, today, under the given circumstances in which the child has lived four and a half years in Switzerland, doesn't speak Hebrew, doesn't know anyone in Israel, doesn't know his father or Israeli culture – to send him to Israel would be abusive and certainly not in the child's best interest," said the attorney representing the mother.


פרסום ראשון: 10.07.09, 22:42
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