Multiple reputable accounts on Twitter (X, if you must) are reporting that Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha has been kidnapped by Israeli forces while fleeing to “safety” in southern Gaza. Abu Toha has recently published poetry in major American outlets like The Atlantic and The New Yorker, and is, among other things, the founder of Gaza’s first English-language library, named for Edward Said (read more about that here).
As with most things happening on the ground in Gaza, it’s virtually impossible to verify anything at a distance, but given Abu Toha’s recent high-profile publications, this wouldn’t be surprising. If it is the case, we echo the sentiments of PEN America in calling for Abu Toha’s safety while in custody, and his immediate release.
UPDATE: Per further reports, Abu Toha was taken by the IDF, along with 200 other Palestinians, while trying to enter Egypt at the Rafah checkpoint. He was carrying his three-year-old son at the time. You can sign a petition demanding his immediate release here.
Here is the second stanza of Abu Toha’s beautiful poem, “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear,” which can be read in full here.
The drone’s buzzing sound,
the roar of an F-16,
the screams of bombs falling on houses,
on fields, and on bodies,
of rockets flying away—
rid my small ear canal of them all.
Spray the perfume of your smiles on the incision.
Inject the song of life into my veins to wake me up.
Gently beat the drum so my mind may dance with yours,
my doctor, day and night.