JERUSALEM: Israel has released an American law professor detained for allegedly trying to block Israeli troops in a West Bank village slated for demolition.
The 66-year-old Frank Romano was detained on Friday in the embattled village of Khan Al-Ahmar, along with two Palestinian activists. Pictures on social media show him being led from the scene by Israeli riot police.
Witnesses said that Romano stood in front of heavy equipment being used to clear barriers that had been set up to slow demolition. Activists said he began a hunger strike while in detention.
Gaby Lasky, Romano’s lawyer, said a court ordered his release late Sunday. She said he was freed early Monday after police decided not to appeal the decision.
Upon his release, Romano returned to the village and said: “I can continue the struggle with you.”
Israel is expected to demolish the village in the coming days.
Romano, who teaches law at the Paris Nanterre University, was released on the orders of the Jerusalem magistrates court.
He said that police had earlier handed him to immigration officials for immediate deportation without a court hearing but he refused to sign a consent form.
“The judge called the immigration and said ‘bring him back’ and we had the hearing,” he said.
In the courtroom, the judge ordered his release, he said.
Supporters said he was allowed to stay in Israel until Sept. 25, the original date of his return flight.
He was ordered to lodge a surety of 1,000 shekels ($256, €240) and provide a guarantor for a separate 5,000 shekel bond, they said.
The village of roughly 200 people in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is at risk of being demolished at any time, despite fierce criticism from key European nations.
On Sept. 5, Israel’s supreme court upheld an order to raze it on grounds it was built without the proper permits.
It is extremely rare for Palestinians to be given Israeli permits to build in Area C of the West Bank, where Khan Al-Ahmar is situated.
The village is located in a strategic spot near Israeli settlements and along a road leading to the Dead Sea.
There have been warnings that continued settlement construction in the area could eventually divide the West Bank in two and cut it off from Jerusalem, dealing a death blow to any remaining hopes of a two-state solution.