Palestinian poet and author, Mosab Abu Toha, has been detained by Israeli forces and then disappeared while trying to leave Gaza, according to his friends and family.
Abu Toha had been told by US officials that he and his family would be able to cross into Egypt, as one of his children is an American citizen.
They were on the way from north to south Gaza, heading for the Rafah crossing point on Sunday, when he was arrested along with other Palestinian men at an Israeli military checkpoint.
The American embassy sent him and his family to go through the Rafah crossing,” the poet’s brother, Hamza said. “We have heard nothing from him.”
According to Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and a former spokesperson for the Palestine Liberation Organization, Abu Toha and his family 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, 200, his wife said.”
Mosab has received numerous accolades for his writing, including the Palestine Book Award 2022, the Arrowsmith Press Award, and was a finalist for both the American Book Award 2022 and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He also received the Before Columbus American Award.
His recent essay on the genocide in Gaza in Newyorker titled The View From My Window was widely read and shared.
several activists and authors from US have called for Toha’s release after the news about his detention. PEN America, a collective of writers, said it is concerned by reports that Toha, the founder of Gaza’s only English language library, has been taken into custody by Israel’s Defense Forces in Gaza.
“We are seeking more details and call for his protection,” PEN America posted on X.
“His whereabouts are now unknown,” the New Yorker reported on its website, saying it joined other organisations in calling for his safe return.