Israel freezes deportation of U.S. student Lara Alqasem

Israel’s Supreme Court Sunday froze the deportation of a U.S. student who was denied entry into the country due to her alleged connection to a Palestinian movement.

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The court said a temporary injunction had been ordered forbidding removal of 22-year-old Lara Alqasem, over her alleged involvement in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — an international campaign that calls for boycotts of Israel over concerns surrounding the country’s treatment of Palestinians.
Reports indicated Alqasem, who has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport for two weeks after security flagged her for her alleged support of BDS, could have been deported by 5 p.m. Sunday.

She filed an appeal request against the decision to detain her and deny her entry to the country Sunday after the Tel Aviv District Court rejected her previous appeal on Friday, saying it could not justify intervening in the case and that the government’s decision to detain her was reasonable, Haaretz reported.

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The Supreme Court will convene on Wednesday to determine whether or not it will grant Alqasem permission to file her appeal.

Alqasem traveled to Israel after she was accepted as a graduate student at the Hebrew University.

About 20 students and professors from the Hebrew University protested Alqasem’s detention at its campus in Jerusalem as the university said it would join in her most recent appeal, The Jerusalem Post reported.

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The university also issued a statement, saying it “regrets the decision not to allow Lara Alqasem to enter Israel and study for a master’s degree in law.”

“The student decided to come to study and live in Israel despite the principles of the boycott and even declared her opposition to a boycott of Israel,” the university said. “We believe that the decision of the ministers, the strategic affairs minister and the interior minister, to deport her from Israel is wrong and does not advance the struggle against BDS.”

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said Sunday he welcomed the district court’s decision to not overturn Alqasem’s detention.

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“The ruling stated explicitly that the decision was based on Alqasem’s activities and actions against the State of Israel and not due to her opinions or thoughts,” he said. “The court clearly declared that a state has the right to protect itself not only in matters of security, but also to fight boycotts against its products, culture or standing.”

ByDaniel Uria