Israeli court orders release of French-American professor arrested in West Bank protest


JERUSALEM (JTA) — An Israeli court ordered the release of a professor with dual American and French citizenship who was arrested during a protest at a West Bank Bedouin village slated for demolition.

Frank Romano, 66, a U.S. native who teaches law at Paris Nanterre University, was released late Sunday on the orders of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

Following his release, Romano said he was sent to a judge after refusing to sign a consent form for his immediate deportation, the French news agency AFP reported Sunday.

Romano reportedly returned to the village after his release and said “I can continue the struggle with you.”

He will be allowed to stay in Israel until Sept. 25, the scheduled date of his return flight.

Romano was arrested Friday during clashes between demonstrators and Israeli troops at Khan al-Ahmar, an illegally built Bedouin village located outside of Jerusalem near Maale Adumim. He was arrested with two Palestinian activists for blocking a road and preventing Israeli security forces from doing their jobs.

In a rare move, Romano was arrested under military law rather than civilian law, which meant his detention could be extended from 24 hours to 96 hours without seeing a judge. On Sunday, he was transferred to the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority, which issued the deportation order against him, his attorney, Gaby Lasky, told the Israeli media.

“Like thieves in the night, instead of bringing Frank Romano to a hearing to free him from jail, which I requested and which was set for 4 p.m. in Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court, without notifying me or the court, at 2 p.m., police transferred him to immigration for deportation,” Lasky tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Last week, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by village residents to halt the demolition. An injunction against the demolition expired on Wednesday.

The high court had authorized the demolition in May, since the homes were built without permits. The July injunction called on the state to review a compromise offer drawn up by the locals that would legalize the village.

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