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IDF says it frees award-winning Palestinian poet after arrest in Gaza

An award-winning Palestinian poet from the Gaza Strip was released Tuesday, a day after he was arrested by the IDF and briefly transferred for interrogation to Israel.

Mosab Abu Toha’s arrest quickly attracted the attention of Western media, as he had been publishing articles in the New Yorker and other major media outlets since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, painting a dire picture of the aftermath. on civilians through his personal experience.

Abu Toha’s brother, Hamza, posted on X that Mosab was arrested while he was being evacuated to southern Gaza. Hamza said his brother’s wife and children were allowed to continue south, but “the military arrested my brother.”

Abu Toha’s release was first reported by New Yorker editor Michael Luo, who tweeted Tuesday that the poet was arrested “for no obvious reason” and taken to southern Israel for detention. interrogates. Luo said two Israeli military officials he spoke with said Abu Toha “would be back in Gaza by the end of the day at the latest.” We hope that Mosab can be reunited with his family and we hope to hear from him soon.

The IDF later issued a statement confirming his release and offering an explanation for his initial arrest.

“During the IDF’s operations in the Gaza Strip, intelligence reported a number of interactions between several civilians and terrorist organizations inside the Gaza Strip. The civilians, including Mosab Abu Toha, were questioned. After the interrogation, he was released,” the Israeli army said.

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas carried out a cross-border attack into Israel that killed more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Terrorists also kidnapped at least 240 people held captive in Gaza.

Israel responded with a military campaign aimed at ousting Hamas from power in Gaza and freeing the hostages. He urged residents of the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south as he strikes terrorist infrastructure in the north.

Abu Toha last posted to X on November 15, writing “Alive. Thank you for your prayers.

The literary and freedom of expression organization PEN expressed concern over the arrest and demanded to know the whereabouts of Abu Toha and the reasons for his arrest. The New Yorker magazine, in which Abu Toha wrote numerous articles, called for his safe return.

The British Guardian newspaper cited relatives and friends as saying that US officials had informed Abu Toha that he and his family could leave Gaza and travel to Egypt via the Rafah crossing because one of his children, born in America , has American citizenship.

The family was heading toward the crossing when Abu Toha was stopped at an IDF checkpoint, according to the report.

Abu Toha and his family moved to Jabaliya, northern Gaza, after the start of the war. They later learned that their house in Beit Lahia had been bombed.

In a November 6 article published by the New Yorker, he described life in Jabaliya in the midst of the war, calling the outbreak of fighting only an “escalation.”

Abu Toha has maintained a constant stream of messages on his X account since the start of the war, repeatedly claiming that Israel had “massacred” civilians.

On October 7, the day of the Hamas attack, he published two articles on the victims of Israeli strikes in Gaza “since the early hours of the morning”, but made no mention of Hamas assaults and massacres in Israel .

Abu Toha wrote an English-language collection titled “Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear,” published last year.

The collection was a finalist for this year’s National Book Critics Circle Poetry Prize and won an American Book Award.

Earlier this month, Egypt began allowing foreign nationals and dual citizens to exit via Rafah to the Sinai Peninsula.

On October 7, Hamas led more than 3,000 terrorists to cross the border into Gaza and then go on a murderous rampage through communities in southern Israel, massacring those they found. Entire families were massacred as they gathered in their homes. Some victims were raped, tortured or mutilated, including dozens of decapitated babies. At an outdoor music festival, 260 people were killed.

Among the hostages held in Gaza are elderly people and young children.

According to Hamas-run Gaza health authorities, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, two-thirds of them women and minors. These figures cannot be independently verified, and Hamas has been accused of inflating them and referring to gunmen in their late teens as children. It is unclear how many of them are fighters, and how many of the dead were victims of failed rockets targeting Israel.

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