An Ottawa father set to be deported will be staying put, at least for now, after the Canada Border Services Agency temporarily suspended deportations to the Gaza Strip.
Haithem Alabadleh, 37, lives in Ottawa with his Canadian wife and their three children. He was born in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but he holds Palestinian travel documents because his parents were born in Gaza.
Alabadleh is applying for permanent residency with his wife's sponsorship after spending eight years in Canada. But he says he was recently told by an enforcement officer with CBSA that he must surrender his travel documents and would be deported to Gaza.
CBSA announced Tuesday it has temporarily suspended all deportations to Gaza. Alabadleh credited a CBC News story last week about his concerns.
"It's very important for me as an innocent Palestinian," Alabadleh told the CBC's Evan Dyer Wednesday. "That's very good news for every Palestinian who does not have any status in Canada to work on immigration issues."
The decision does not stop the deportation of people for reasons of criminal activity, national security, war crimes, or crimes against humanity, according to the CBSA.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on Nov. 21, which was aimed at ending the worst violence between the two sides in four years.
Canada not currently deporting to 4 countries
A CBSA spokeswoman said the suspension was put in place because "immediate action is needed to temporarily defer removals in situations of humanitarian crisis."
Alabadleh, who has no criminal record, said he has only spent two weeks in Gaza in his entire life. He also knows the dangers of conflict well, as his 24-year-old friend, Nader Benrewin, was killed while fighting the Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya in the summer of 2011.
Before the announcement, CBSA had classified Gaza as a safe destination. A letter addressed to Alabadleh dated September 2005 said he "would not be subject to risk of persecution, danger of torture, risk to life or risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment."
In addition to Gaza, currently CBSA does not deport individuals to Libya, Somalia or Syria.