Thailand: 10 hostages released by Hamas, 20 still held captive

Wilawan Watcharasakwej
Thailand: 10 hostages released by Hamas, 20 still held captive Ten Thai hostages wearing olive green and yellow jackets at Shamir Medical Center in Israel after being released by Hamas, Nov. 25, 2023.
Handout/Thai Foreign Ministry

UPDATED at 8:26 a.m. ET on 2023-11-25

Ten Thai hostages kidnapped during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel have been released under a four-day ceasefire agreement, the Thai foreign ministry said Saturday.

Hamas on Friday released 24 hostages — including 13 Israelis and one Philippine national — who had been held for weeks in the Gaza Strip as part of a deal that also involved the exchange of 150 Palestinians from Israeli prisons and the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The 10 Thais crossed into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing on Friday evening before being transported to Hatzerim air base for processing and on to the Shamir Medical Center in Israel.

“Royal Thai Embassy officials are with the group and have notified their relatives,” Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday.

“This group will stay in the hospital for at least 48 hours, while the [embassy] will make all the necessary arrangements for their travel back to Thailand and their families as soon as possible.”

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin had earlier said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that 12 Thai nationals had been freed. 

The foreign ministry confirmed Saturday the number stood at 10, with 20 still being held by Hamas. A photo released by the ministry showed one woman was among those freed.

Thailand thanked the governments of Qatar, Israel, Egypt, Iran and Malaysia for their help in negotiating the release of the 10 hostages. On Nov. 21, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs had revised the number of Thais hostages in Hamas captivity to 26, but that information at the time did not account for four of the Thai hostages who were released on Friday, officials said. 

“We sincerely hope that the remaining hostages will be treated humanely and released safely as soon as possible,” the ministry said.

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.

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also confirmed on Saturday the release of Filipino national Gelienor “Jimmy” Pacheco.

Pacheco, 33, was now in the custody of the Philippine Embassy in Israel. 

“We remain concerned over the whereabouts of our other national, Ms. Noralyn Babadilla, and are sparing no effort to locate and secure her if she is indeed found to be one of the hostages,” Marcos said in a statement. 

The four-day truce between Israel and Hamas is the first pause since fighting began and a chance to provide critical humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, who have been displaced by Israel’s heavy bombardment of the enclave.

More than 13,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel began its offensive against Hamas, the Associated Press reported, citing the Health Ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Both sides have said hostilities will resume after the ceasefire ends. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to wipe out Hamas and end its 16 year-rule of the strip.

This report has been updated to include revised information given by the foreign ministry on Nov. 21 for the number of Thai hostages.  


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