Twenty-five Hamas-held Thai hostages are 'safe': mediator
November 16, 2023 07:20 PM
Thailand's government has been given assurances by Hamas that 25 of its nationals held hostage by the Palestinian armed group are "safe", a member of the kingdom's hostage release negotiating team said Thursday.
The hostages could be released in days if a ceasefire is agreed between Israel and Hamas, Thai politician Lepong Syed said.
More than 240 people were taken hostage during Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, which also killed at least 1,200 people according to official Israeli figures.
In response, the Israeli military has pounded Gaza with an air-and-ground offensive, with the Hamas-controlled health ministry saying more than 11,500 people, including thousands of children, have been killed.
Thai politician Lepong, who is part of his government's mediation team, said Bangkok was assured by Hamas that the Thai hostages were safe and would "return to the motherland soon".
"The Thai nationals in captivity are safe," he said, adding that they could be released only if a ceasefire was announced.
"I hope that it will be less than 10 days, or even a few days."
Thailand's negotiating team -- mostly consisting of Thai Muslims -- had been in hourly contact with the armed group, he said.
"We have pushed for the Thais to be released soon, and Hamas has assured us," said Lepong, president of the Thai-Iran alumni association.
Lepong's comments come after the Thai foreign minister travelled to Qatar earlier this month to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart over the Thai nationals' release.
About 30,000 Thais were working in Israel, mostly in the agriculture sector, at the time of the attack, according to the kingdom's labour ministry.
Thirty-nine citizens have been killed and 19 wounded in the conflict, with the kingdom evacuating more than 8,500 of its people, according to the Thai foreign ministry.