Freeman Poritz

A Letter to my Tanzanian Brother Presumed Captive in Gaza

Joshua Mollel (Courtesy)
Joshua Mollel (Courtesy)

Dear Joshua Loitu Mollel,

Mambo (Hello) my friend. Habari Gani (How are you?). I know this question may seem ridiculous given your present situation. When, in fact, your current reality more closely resembles a nightmare.

By all known accounts, you were abducted by Hamas terrorists and taken into Gaza on October 7th. The only Tanzanian forcefully kidnapped from Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Did you understand what was happening? Did you stand and fight? Did you try and run? Like so many others on that fateful day, it seems to me that you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You arrived in Israel as a fresh-faced 21 year old Tanzanian agriculture student excited to spend some time on an Israeli dairy farm. I can attest that Tanzanians are a warm and welcoming lot, and I truly hope that your Kibbutz hosts gave you a fitting sabra welcome with a filling meal in the dining hall. I know it’s not ugali and nyama choma, but hummus, falafel, and schnitzel can be appetizing too. According to the BBC, you were set on making your fortune in “agribusiness and becoming a successful farmer.”

When I was around your age, I also spent a significant period of time onKibbutz Nahal Oz,Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Kibbutz Sa’ad, as well as several other communities in the “Gaza envelope.” Kibbutz members treated me with that gruff warmth unique to those who live in the countryside and work outside with their hands. I was always taken care of; provided with food and a hot shower when needed. In light of the October 7th Hamas terror operation, many of these communities have now been partially destroyed and/or seriously damaged. Will they quietly rebuild and return stronger than before? Only time will tell.

Like me, you come from a good home. Do you remember your father Loitu’s last words to you before you left for Israel on October 5th? They were: “Be on your best behaviour because you’re somewhere new, and make the most of the internship you’re there to do.” You can rest assured that your Dad is doing everything in his power to attain your release; leaving no stone unturned in the quest to reunite you with your siblings and grandfather.

It’s been more than 50 days now so I want you to know that my colleagues and I at Mipango in Dodoma are thinking about you, keeping you in our thoughts and prayers, even though it appears that much of the world has forgotten. Are you being kept far below the earth in a terror tunnel? Are you eating? Are you sleeping? Are your captors treating you humanely? The release of some hostages gives us hope that you’ll soon be released as well.

I assume you haven’t heard about the death of fellow Tanzanian agricultural intern Clemence Felix Mtenga on Kibbutz Nir Oz – a young man with a bright future murdered in cold blood on October 7th by those depraved butchers of Hamas; ostensibly carried out in the name of Palestinian “liberation.” How killing innocents and provoking war in a densely populated environment like Gaza will lead to a better life for Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter, simply defies any kind of rational logic.

I wonder if Mama Samia (Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan) is thinking about you. I truly hope she is. I’m pleased to report that the Tanzanian foreign minister Mr. January Makamba is working through official channels with his Israeli counterparts to identify your whereabouts and secure your release.

The people of Israel have a responsibility towards you too. I want you to know that as long as you continue to breathe, we’re going to continue to try our best to get you home.



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About the Author
Freeman Poritz is currently traveling long-term and observing Israel from afar.
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