A Palestinian writer whose work has been published in U.S. magazines such as The Atlantic and The New Yorker was detained in Gaza, a New Yorker editor said on Monday.
New Yorker editor-in-chief David Remnick alerted staffers on Monday that the magazine lost touch with writer Mosab Abu Toha and later learned he was arrested, Michael Luo, the editor of The New Yorker’s website, wrote on X. His arrest came as Israel continued its ground invasion in Gaza, most recently seizing Gaza’s largest hospital.
PEN International, an association of writers, accused the Israeli Defense Forces of detaining Abu Toha on X and demanded information on his situation.
“PEN International is deeply concerned by news that Mosab Abu Toha, Palestinian writer, poet, and founder of Gaza’s first English-language library, has been arrested by the Israeli Defense Force while leaving #Gaza,” it wrote in a post. “We join calls demanding to know his whereabouts and the reasons for his detention.”
The Atlantic and the IDF did not respond to immediate requests for comment. The New Yorker did not have an additional comment beyond a post on its website that highlighted Abu Toha’s work.
Daniel A. Gross, a story editor at The New Yorker, called for Abu Toha’s release in an X post on Monday.
“Today, I learned that the poet @mosababutoha has been taken from his family and detained in Gaza,” he wrote. “He is reportedly in @IDF custody. I’ve had the privilege of editing Mosab for @newyorker. He has a wife and three kids. I call for his immediate release.”
Abu Toha, a scholar who won the American Book Award for a 2022 poetry book, published both poems and essays for the magazines following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in Israel, using his work to describe life on the ground in Gaza for him, his family, and fellow Palestinians. His most recent New Yorker essay, titled “The Agony of Waiting for a Ceasefire that Never Comes,” highlighted the plight of Israel’s retaliation campaign in Gaza.
“If not for the war, I would be playing soccer with my friends twice a week,” Abu Toha wrote. “I would be watching movies with my wife. I would be reading the books on my shelves. I would be taking my kids to the playground, and to the beach. I would be riding my bike with my son, Yazzan, on the beach road. But now there are no books and no shelves and no beach road.”