A Palestinian poet and essayist, Mosab Abu Toha, who founded the first English-language library in the Gaza Strip, was released by Israel on Tuesday. This came two days after he was detained as his family was fleeing to southern Gaza on foot.
As per Diana Buttu, a family friend who spoke to him soon after his release, the poet was taken to a detention center in the Negev desert in southern Israel. She further stated that he was likely freed because of public pressure, including from publications like The New Yorker magazine, which Mr. Abu Toha has contributed to, and the free speech organization PEN America. It was also mentioned that he was interrogated and beaten during his detention.
The Israeli military confirmed that he was among several civilians taken in for questioning and then released. Dozens of other families have reported similar incidents where their family members have vanished after being stopped by Israel’s military along the evacuation route.
Mr. Abu Toha told Ms. Buttu that he was taken on Sunday along with more than 100 other Palestinians in Israeli military vehicles and driven into southern Israel, all while they were blindfolded. Dozens have been detained during the ground invasion that began more than three weeks ago, claimed the Israeli military.
Following his release, Mr. Abu Toha made his way to the central Gaza town of Deir al-Balah, to reunite with his family who had already arrived there. It was mentioned that the family was on a State Department evacuation list and was making their way to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in southern Gaza when Mr. Abu Toha was detained.
Human rights organizations are trying to ascertain how many Palestinians from Gaza have been detained and where they are being held.
In 2017, Mr. Abu Toha opened the English-language Edward Said Library in northern Gaza.