US student appeals detention in Israel for supporting boycott

US student appeals detention in Israel for supporting boycott
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An American student detained in Israel over allegations that she promotes a boycott of the country appealed her detention on Thursday. 

Lara Alqasem, who was set to start a law degree program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem this month, was blocked from entering the country on Oct. 2 after Israeli authorities accused her of supporting the "Boycott, Divest, Sanction" (BDS) movement, multiple outlets reported. 


Alqasem appeared in a court in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Thursday to appeal her detention.

Israeli authorities will continue to detain her until the court delivers its ruling, the Associated Press reported. There is no date for the ruling yet.

Alqasem was previously the president of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Florida, according to the AP. Students for Justice in Palestine, which has chapters on college campuses around the world, support the BDS movement.

Israel has called the group extremist and “hate-filled” in its anti-Israel stance.

The BDS movement uses nonviolent means to protest what its supporters call human rights abuses against Palestinians by the Israeli state. 

Israel has in begun cracking down on supporters of anti-Israel activists. Last year it enacted a law banning entry by anyone who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.” Israeli leaders say the BDS movement is an attempt to destroy the Jewish state. 

Alqsem, whose grandparents are Palestinian, is the fifteenth person to be held under the law since it was passed, according to The Washington Post

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told The Times of Israel on Tuesday that he might consider Alqsem's appeal if she renounces any connections to BDS and Students for Justice in Palestine.

"Israel has the right to decide which foreign nationals can enter," Erdan said. "Israel’s parliament passed legislation to prevent entry of foreign nationals who seek to harm the state and its security through the anti-Semitic BDS campaign." 

Alqsem's lawyers say that she does not have ties to the BDS movement any longer. 

“Even if she supported a boycott in the past, we are talking about someone who now wants to come to Israel,” her attorney, Yotam Ben-Hillel, told The Times of Israel.