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Israel to deport French-US professor arrested at West Bank protest

Without informing attorney, Frank Romano sent to immigration authorities, after allegedly blocking demolition of Bedouin village

American-French law professor Frank Romano gestures at the Jerusalem magistrates court on September 16, 2018. To his right is his lawyer Gaby Lasky. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)
American-French law professor Frank Romano gestures at the Jerusalem magistrates court on September 16, 2018. To his right is his lawyer Gaby Lasky. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

An American-French law professor arrested by Israel while protesting against the demolition of a Palestinian village in the West Bank is to be deported, his lawyer said Sunday.

US-born Frank Romano, who teaches law at the Paris Nanterre University, was detained on Friday while taking part in a demonstration at the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem.

“There is an administrative decision to deport him,” lawyer Gaby Lansky told reporters.

“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,” Lansky wrote on Twitter.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Interior Ministry could not immediately confirm such a decision.

The village of roughly 200 people in the West Bank will be demolished, after an Israeli court paved the way for its razing.

Anti-demolition activists said Romano was arrested along with two Palestinian protesters when they tried to block bulldozers sent in by Israeli authorities to seal off an access road to the village. The activists said that Romano stood in front of a bulldozer that was clearing barriers that had been set up to slow demolition.

Israeli police confirmed three people were detained for causing disturbances at Khan al-Ahmar on Friday, but did not release details of their identities.

Pictures on social media show him being led from the scene by Israeli riot police.

Israeli border police arrest American university professor Frank Romano in the West Bank Bedouin community of Khan al-Ahmar on September 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Last week, the High Court of Justice cleared the way for the demolition of Khan al-Ahmar, rejecting a final appeal amid a growing international outcry over the fate of the West Bank community.

Israel says Khan al-Ahmar, a hamlet of corrugated shacks east of Jerusalem, was illegally built and has offered to resettle residents 12 kilometers (7 miles) away.

Opponents of the demolition argue that it is part of an effort to enable the expansion of the nearby settlement of Kfar Adumim and to create a region of contiguous Israeli control from Jerusalem almost to the Dead Sea, a move critics say will bisect the West Bank, making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.

Israeli forces on Thursday demolished five trailers that were set up recently outside the hamlet. The trailers, erected out of shipping containers, had been set up earlier in the week as a form of protest against the expected razing.

The Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank on September 6, 2018. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The United Nations and the European Union have repeatedly warned Israel that razing Khan al-Ahmar would undermine peace efforts with Palestinians and constitutes a violation of international law.

On Thursday, the EU Parliament passed a resolution saying the impending resolution would set a “negative precedent” for other Bedouin communities facing demolition in the West Bank.

“Israel bears full responsibility for providing the necessary services, including education, healthcare and welfare, for the people living under its occupation, in line with the Fourth Geneva Convention,” the resolution read.

Israel claims the structures, mostly makeshift shacks and tents, were built without permits and pose a threat to the village residents because of their proximity to a highway.

But the villagers — who have lived at the site, then in controlled Jordan, since the 1950s, after the state evicted them from their Negev homes — argue that they had little alternative but to build without Israeli construction permits, as such permits are almost never issued to Palestinians for building in places in Area C of the West Bank, such as Khan al-Ahmar, where Israel has full control over civilian affairs.

Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was split into three areas: A, which is governed by the PA; B, which is under joint Israeli-PA control; and C, which is under full Israeli control.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem claims that the demolition is part of a plan to minimize Palestinian presence in Area C, which accounts for 60 percent of the West Bank.

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