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A former UF student was supposed to be deported from Israel Sunday. A court halted that, reports say

Lara Alqasem, who grew up in Southwest Ranches, sits in a courtroom before a hearing in district court in Tel Aviv on Oct. 11. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, Oct. 18, that Alqasem, originally denied entry into Israel because of her pro-Palestinian activism, can stay in the country and enroll in a graduate program in Jerusalem.
Lara Alqasem, who grew up in Southwest Ranches, sits in a courtroom before a hearing in district court in Tel Aviv on Oct. 11. Israel’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, Oct. 18, that Alqasem, originally denied entry into Israel because of her pro-Palestinian activism, can stay in the country and enroll in a graduate program in Jerusalem. AP

Israel’s High Court of Justice stopped Sunday’s scheduled deportation of Southwest Ranches-raised former University of Florida student Lara Alqasem, according to reports from Israel.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Justice Uzi Vogelman told the Israeli government and Alqasem to file responses in writing within 24 hours of a Wednesday first hearing on her appeal against her deportation. At that hearing, the court will determine whether it will hear Alqasem’s appeal.

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Alqasem has been frozen at Ben Gurion Airport just outside Tel Aviv, refusing to return to the United States but not allowed into Israel to study in a Hebrew University masters program. She’d obtained a student visa before Israel discovered she was president of UF’s Students for Justice in Palestine. Israel considers that group part of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement, which calls for one or all of those measures against Israel for its treatment of Palestinians.

The Consul General of Israel in Miami Lior Hiat told the Miami Herald “...once we realized that Ms. Alqasem is involved in anti-Israel (and anti-Semitic) activities through the BDS movement, she was denied entry.”

Alqasem has said she left the BDS Movement in 2017. The Jerusalem Post said lawyers for Israel argued in the Tel Aviv District Court she made Facebook posts in 2018 stating she’d attend BDS events, then erased them. The Post said Alqasem’s attorney, Yotam Ben-Hillel argued many people post things on Facebook, then don’t follow through or erase them for reasons beyond concealment.

The Times of Israel said Alqasem was scheduled to be deported at 5 p.m. Israel time (10 a.m. Eastern time in the United States) after a Tel Aviv District Court on Friday upheld the government’s refusal to allow Alqasem entry.

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