Palestinian Poet Mosab Abu Toha Reportedly Arrested by Israeli Forces: What to Know


It was solely a month in the past that award-winning Palestinian poet and author Mosab Abu Toha, a 30-year-old husband and father of three, revealed an essay within the New Yorker describing his life in Gaza and the phobia and destruction Israeli airstrikes have been inflicting on his neighborhood. He wrote about bombs dropping in his neighborhood and a barrage of reports notifications on his telephone alerting to different explosions close by. “Sometimes I decide not to check the news. We are part of it, I think to myself,” he wrote.

“One idea in particular haunts me, and I cannot push it away,” he wrote. “Will I, too, become a statistic on the news?”

On Nov. 20, govt editor Michael Luo posted on X that the publication had “lost touch” with Abu Toha and realized that he had been arrested in central Gaza. “His whereabouts are now unknown,” the New Yorker reported on Monday, calling for his secure return.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former spokesperson for the Palestinian Liberation Organization, posted on social media that Abu Toha was “kidnapped by [the] Israeli army in Gaza as he was fleeing with his family,” which she stated she realized by talking instantly along with his household.

“The army took Mosab when he arrived at the checkpoint, leaving from the north to the south, as the army had ordered,” Abu Toha’s brother Hamza posted on social media. “We have no information about him. It is worth mentioning that the American embassy sent him and his family to travel through the Rafah crossing.”

Buttu advised the Guardian that Abu Toha’s son was born within the U.S. and was cleared to be evacuated from Gaza, however “Mosab’s name was not on the list.”

“Eventually, they got his name and his wife’s name and the other kids on the list, and they were waiting to get out when it was safe,” Buttu recounted, attributing Abu Toha’s spouse. “They were trying to evacuate from the north to the south, when they were stopped at a checkpoint with a lot of others. They were told to lift their arms to show they didn’t have anything. Mosab was ordered to put his son down and then the army grabbed him, along with a lot of other men.”

The Israeli Defense Forces advised the Washington Post that they have been trying into the arrest, and a U.S. State Department official advised CNN that they had no data to share to this point.

Abu Toha was born within the Al-Shati refugee camp months earlier than the Oslo Accords have been signed in 1993. He went on to graduate with a level in English from the Islamic University of Gaza earlier than founding the Edward Said Library, the enclave’s first English-language public library, in his hometown of Beit Lahia in 2017. (A second department was opened in Gaza City in 2019).

Abu Toha taught English at U.N. Relief and Works Agency colleges in Gaza from 2016 to 2019. In October 2019, he left Gaza for the primary time to develop into a visiting scholar at Harvard University. Last yr, Abu Toha revealed his debut ebook of poetry, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear. It gained an American Book Award, Palestine Book Award, and Arrowsmith Press’s 2023 Derek Walcott Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Earlier this yr, he accomplished a graduate poetry diploma at Syracuse University, the place he additionally labored as a instructing assistant earlier than shifting again to Gaza.

Since the struggle that started with terrorist group Hamas’ assault on Israel on Oct. 7, Abu Toha has revealed essays and poems concerning the state of affairs in Gaza in plenty of U.S. publications, together with the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and, most just lately, the Nation. On social media, too, he has documented the destruction of his dwelling, the loss of life of certainly one of his college students, and periodic updates on his household’s standing.

His newest publish on Nov. 15 shared: “Alive. Thanks for your prayers. We don’t have any access to food or clean water. Winter is coming and we don’t have enough clothes. Kids are suffering. We are suffering. The army is now at Al-Shifa Hospital. More death, more destruction. Who can stop this? Please stop it now.”

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