Thailand says Iran, Qatar and Egypt pledge help with Hamas hostages

BenarNews staff
Thailand says Iran, Qatar and Egypt pledge help with Hamas hostages Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian during their meeting in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 31, 2023.

UPDATED at 7:31 a.m EDT on 2023-11-03

Thailand’s foreign minister said Friday that Iran, Qatar and Egypt had promised to convey to Hamas a request for the release of 23 Thais taken hostage during the Palestinian group’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara visited Qatar and Egypt early this week to press for the release of the Thai nationals who were abducted from agricultural areas in southern Israel after the militant group broke through a fence sealing off the Gaza Strip from the Jewish state.

In Doha, Parnpree also met his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

“The three countries showed willingness to help Thailand,” he said at a press conference in Bangkok.

“I pointed out that Thais working there are low-income people, and work in the agricultural sector to boost their income.”

Parnpree said he told the Iranian foreign minister that the Thais’ work was unrelated to politics and conflict. 

“I asked him to send a message to the Hamas group that they are just laborers,” he said.

More than 8,300 Thais have returned home since fighting began, while more than 21,500, mostly agricultural workers, remain in Israel, according to the foreign ministry. At least 32 Thai nationals have died and 19 have been injured.

Since the surprise attacks on Oct. 7, Israel has hit back hard with constant aerial bombardments of densely populated Gaza.

International calls for a ceasefire are growing louder as the scale of humanitarian suffering intensifies in the strip. The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 9,000 people have died in Israeli air strikes, mostly women and children, Agence France-Presse reported on Friday.

Israel says Hamas killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 230 hostages.

The 23 Thai hostages are the single largest group of foreigners being held captive by Hamas. Until Thursday, when they revised up the figure, Thai government officials had put the number of Thais taken captive by Hamas at 22.

Late last month, a delegation from Thailand’s mainly Muslim far south also held talks with Hamas in Iran to call for the release of the hostages.

Iran backs Hamas, which Israel, the United States and other Western countries have branded a terrorist organization.  

Parnpree said that Iran, Qatar, Egypt asked Thailand to support a ceasefire that would expedite the release of the hostages.

“All three countries acknowledged the fact that the Thais are innocent and have no stake in the conflict,” he said.

This reported has been updated to note that the government had revised up its information for the number of Thai hostages.


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