4 more Thais freed by Hamas in second hostages-for-prisoners swap with Israel

BenarNews staff
4 more Thais freed by Hamas in second hostages-for-prisoners swap with Israel In this photo provided by Thailand's Foreign Ministry, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (right) talks to one of 10 Thai hostages after they were freed, at the Shamir Medical Center in Israel, Nov. 25, 2023.
Thailand's Foreign Ministry/AP

Four Thais were among a group released by Hamas in a second hostages-for-prisoners exchange with Israel, Thai officials said Sunday.

The group, including 13 Israelis, was freed as part of a four-day truce that also involves the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, where Israeli bombardments have caused severe shortages of essential supplies like food, medicine and fuel.

Thailand’s foreign ministry said the four Thais were released Sunday and taken to a designated medical center in Israel for a check up.

It added that Israeli authorities had revised up the number of Thai nationals held by Hamas by two.

“This means that after the release of the second group today, it is estimated that there are still 18 Thai nationals abducted,” the ministry said in a statement. “The Thai government will continue to make every effort towards the safe release and return of those remaining Thai nationals.”

Ten Thai hostages kidnapped during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel were among 24 hostages freed on Friday. 

Israel released 39 Palestinians – six women and 33 minors – from two prisons, Reuters reported Sunday, citing the Palestinian news agency WAFA.

On social media platform X, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said the Thais released Sunday were in good health overall and “everyone talks and walks normally.”

The Thais were abducted from agricultural areas in southern Israel after Hamas broke through a fence sealing off Gaza from the Jewish state, before killing 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and taking more than 230 hostages.

Following the Oct. 7 attack, Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara visited Qatar and Egypt and met with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian to press for the release of the Thai nationals, who were the single largest group of foreigners abducted by Palestinian militant groups. 

About 30,000 Thais worked in Israel before the war began, predominantly as farmhands. About a third have returned home since fighting began but the rest have chosen to remain in Israel, according to the foreign ministry. At least 32 Thai nationals have died and 19 have been injured.

Rung-arun Wicha-ngern said she was overjoyed to receive a pre-dawn call on Friday telling her that her brother, Witoon Pumee, was one of the 10 Thai hostages released in the first exchange.

“I burst into tears,” she said in an interview with broadcaster Thai PBS. “You escaped death, my dear brother … and are coming home.”


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