US student challenges Israel entry ban in court
Tel Aviv – A US student banned from entering Israel for allegedly having supported a pro-Palestinian boycott of the country appeared in court on Thursday to challenge the decision.
It is the latest in a series of cases drawing criticism of an Israeli regime law barring boycott supporters that opponents say violates freedom of expression.
The Israeli regime has also come under criticism in recent months over what some have seen as the politically motivated questioning of certain foreigners seeking to enter the country.
Lara Al Qasem, 22, arrived at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport on October 2 to study for a master’s degree at Hebrew University in occupied Jerusalem, but was not allowed to enter.
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She has been held at an immigration facility, choosing to challenge the entry ban rather than fly back to the United States.
A hearing was being held on her case in Tel Aviv district court on Thursday.
In March 2017, Israel’s parliament passed a law banning the entry of supporters of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, inspired by measures against South Africa before the fall of apartheid.
Al Qasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, is said to have been president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine while an undergraduate student at the University of Florida.
The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel.
Al Qasem has reportedly said she has since distanced herself from the movement, and supporters point to her willingness to enter Israel to study as proof.