UF alumna Lara Alqasem was granted permission to enter Israel after being detained for more than two weeks in an Israeli airport.
After fighting deportation, the Israeli Supreme Court overturned previous decisions that banned her from entering the country, the Associated Press reported.
Alqasem, 22, appealed to judges so she could enter Israel to start a master’s program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Both of her appeals to local and regional courts were initially denied.
The decision was overturned because her desire to study in Israel was more important in the court’s eyes than her alleged previous involvement boycotting Israeli companies, AP reported.
In her appeal, Alqasem said she does not participate in boycotts now or in the future.
Israel previously passed a law that banned anyone who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel” from entry. The state wanted to use Alqasem’s past involvement as evidence against her, but the Supreme Court decided this evidence was not enough to use the anti-boycott law.
Alqasem’s lawyers said she has been released from the airport. She said she was “relieved at the court’s decision,” in a statement.
William Christou, a 22-year-old UF international studies senior, said he followed Alqasem’s case from the beginning. He said he felt less anxious once he realized the state had a weaker case and saw a picture of her leaving the airport, bags in hand.
“It was really amazing to see Lara free from foreign detention and free to pursue her education,” Christou said.
Dana Cassidy contributed to this report.
Oct. 2 - Lara Alqasem is detained at the Ben Gurion Airport in Israel for alleged involvement in a group that boycotts Israel.
Oct. 5 - Local court appeal for entry into the country was denied. Still living in the Ben Gurion Airport.
Oct. 12 - Alqasem’s second appeal to the Tel Aviv District Court denied.
Oct. 14 - Court agreed to a third hearing regarding whether or not Alqasem can enter Israel and study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Oct. 18 - Israel Supreme Court accepted Alqasem’s appeal, allowing entry into the country.
Lara Alqasem, a member of the Radical Students Alliance and then-UF political science sophomore, speaks during a candlelight vigil in support of refugees in 2015. “You only leave home when home is the mouth of a shark,” she said. “No one puts their children on boats unless the boat is safer than the land.”