November 17, 2009
Berlanty Azzam, the 21-year-old Palestinian student summarily deported last month from Bethlehem University to her family home in Gaza by the Israeli army, was finally given a military hearing today to plead her case to stay two more months in Bethlehem in order to finish her degree -- a hearing that she should have been afforded three weeks ago. The Israeli army, which deviated from procedures set down by Israeli courts when it deported her blindfolded and handcuffed, gave Ms. Azzam a one-hour hearing in a disused office at the Erez crossing terminal building. The army maintained its refusal to allow Ms. Azzam even the minimal rights usually afforded to Palestinian suspects, and initially refused to allow Ms. Azzam to meet with her lawyer. The army is required to reply by Sunday to Ms. Azzam's petition to the Israeli Supreme Court to stay in Bethlehem.