Israel Defends Treatment of Detained US Student

American Lara Alqasem sits in a courtroom prior to a hearing at the district court in Tel Aviv Israel on Thursday

Gilad Erdan told Channel 10 that the letter failed to comply with criteria he had detailed regarding the student, who has been refused entry into the country over allegations that she supports the BDS movement.

Lara Alqasem, 22, had a valid student visa when she landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on October 16, but authorities ordered her to be deported over her alleged previous support for a movement to boycott products from Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians, according to the Associated Press.

Lara Alqasem, a 22-year-old of Palestinian descent who has a valid student visa to enter Israel, is expected to remain in detention while the appeal is considered.

Alqasem, whose grandparents are from Palestine, was held in detention at the airport for over a week until she appeared before Tel Aviv district court on Thursday to challenge the ban on BDS supporters. The guards took away the student's phone, and in most cases the only person who she is allowed to call is her lawyer. Her case is set to be heard at a Tel Aviv court Thursday. The minister later hinted that the government might consider letting Alqasem into Israel if she declares the support for BDS "illegitimate" and "regrets what she did on this matter". She has been in detention for a total of nine days.

At one point, one of representatives received a message from his boss, in which the strategic affairs minister wrote: "I hope that the judge knows our law".

Alqasem's lawyers say that she is no longer engaged in BDS activity, and has promised not to promote it in the future.

United States citizen Lara Alqasem, 22, arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion airport on October 2 to study for a master's degree at Hebrew University in the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds, but was not allowed to enter over her support for the boycott of goods from Israel.

A senior Israeli cabinet minister on Wednesday defended the government's handling of the case of an American graduate student held in detention at the country's international airport for the past week over allegations that she promotes a boycott against
Union For Reform Judaism Calls For Release Of Detained Pro-Palestinian Student

But Israeli officials denied her entry and ordered her to turn back, saying she is an active supporter of the boycott.

"Visa cancellation should be done only in exceptional circumstances and this is not such a case", attorney Yotam Ben-Hillel said, according to Reuters. Determined to study in Jerusalem, she's fighting the decision in court. The state prosecutor provided not a single piece of visual evidence regarding Alqasem's online behavior. Israeli law does not allow boycott backers to enter the country.

Ben-Hillel told the court that his client had come to Israel to learn Hebrew and study the Holocaust and other issues. Her telephone privileges are also limited. "The question should be why they do this in the first place". "Israel will not allow entry to those who work to harm the country, whatever their excuse".

While Alqasem's attorneys argued that she could not be denied entry based exclusively on her ideas and Facebook "likes", Asher Fredman, an advisor to Erdan, tried to explain the Strategic Affairs Ministry's decision: "We did not deny her entry based on her ideas or her signing petitions". "She's not even part of the student organization anymore". Alqasem, who hails from Southwest Ranches, Florida, outside of Ft.

During her appeal, Alqasem argued that she never actively participated in anti-Israeli campaigns. It's come under heavy criticism for its handling of Alqasem's case.

"If Ms. Alqasem is, indeed, a threat to Israel's security", it concluded, "then Israel has far more serious problems than what type of hummus a college student buys or does not buy". "She will strengthen Israel's reputation to fight BDS".

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