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Israel upholds ban on US student refused entry for 10 days

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US student Lara Alqasem, who appealed after she was refused entry to Israel over her alleged support for a pro-Palestinian boycott campaign, sits in a Tel Aviv district Court on October 11, 2018

An Israeli court on Friday upheld a ban on a US student refused entry and held for 10 days over her alleged support for a pro-Palestinian boycott campaign.

Lara Alqasem's case has been one of the most high profile so far under a 2017 Israeli law barring supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

In its ruling, the court said that "any self-respecting state defends its own interests and those of its citizens, and has the right to fight against the actions of a boycott... as well as any attacks on its image."

It rejected Alqasem's appeal against the ban, but did not rule on whether she should be sent home.

Alqasem is considering asking the Supreme Court to hear her appeal, according to her lawyer Yotam Ben Hillel.

The lawyer added that in any case that her deportation -- in line with a court decision -- cannot take place before 0700 GMT on October 14.

The 22-year-old has been held for 10 days at an immigration facility in Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport.

Alqasem landed there on October 2, intending to study for a master's degree at Jerusalem's Hebrew University, but was not allowed to enter despite having a visa.

She was detained but chose to challenge the entry ban rather than return to the United States.

Hebrew University meanwhile issued a statement saying it "regrets the decision" not to allow Alqasem to study in Israel.

"The decision to deport her is wrong and does not advance the struggle against the BDS campaign" but "weakens" efforts to attract foreign students to study in Israel, the statement said.

Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has said that he would consider allowing Alqasem to take up her university place if she publicly denounces BDS.

In March 2017, Israel's parliament passed a law banning the entry of supporters of the BDS movement, inspired by an international campaign against South Africa before the fall of apartheid.

Alqasem, reportedly of Palestinian descent, is said to have been president of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine during her undergraduate studies at the University of Florida.

The group has supported boycott campaigns against Israel.