After two and a half years in custody of the Interior Ministry, a Palestinian man who was declared to be an illegal resident eligible for deportation was released on Thursday.
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The government tried unsuccessfully to deport the 25-year-old Ma’an Abu Hafez to Brazil, where he was born and left at a young age. He was ultimately returned to his home in the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, after a temporary agreement was reached with the State Prosecutor’s Office.
The agreement was struck as part of the hearing of a petition filed on his behalf to the High Court of Justice by the Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual organization. Attorney Nadia Daqqa demanded that Israel grant him residency in the West Bank. According to the agreement, Abu Hafez will act to receive an up-to-date Brazilian passport and Israel will grant him a visitor’s permit for the West Bank for the next year. Abu Hafez and Hamoked hope that during the next year his status as a resident of the West Bank, where he has lived most of his life, will be legalized.
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Abu Hafez’s father was born in and lives in the West Bank. He spent a number of years in South America and married a Uruguayan citizen there, who converted to Islam and whose family cut their ties with her as a result. In 1997, the father returned to the West Bank with his wife and their three children, but abandoned them a short time later without beginning the process of registering his minor children as residents, and without submitting a request for family reunification with his wife. Since then, the mother and children have been living without legal status in the West Bank. Abu Hafez was younger than three when he entered the West Bank, he does not speak Portuguese and has no relationship with his family or anyone else in Brazil.