Freed Thai hostage says Israelis held with him were abused, beaten

Foreign worker says Israelis with him were treated more harshly by Hamas than others; all hostages were severely underfed, given one pita a day

Thai nationals freed from Gazan captivity hug at a hospital in Israel in a photo released by the Thai government on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)
Thai nationals freed from Gazan captivity hug at a hospital in Israel in a photo released by the Thai government on November 27, 2023. (Courtesy)

A Thai foreign worker who was released from Hamas captivity in recent days has testified that Israeli hostages with whom he was held were beaten by their captors, including with cables.

According to a Channel 12 report Wednesday, the Thai national, who was not named, told the IDF about his experiences while in captivity and said that the Israelis were treated extremely harshly, even more so than the foreign nationals they were held with.

“I was with Israelis, and there were guards all the time. The Jews who were with me were treated more harshly. Sometimes they were beaten with electrical cables.” He did not appear to be referring to live wires.

Regarding the conditions in which he was held, he was quoted as saying: “The compound we were in was quite large. I would walk there back and forth, counting steps to pass the time.”

He added that there was little food for the hostages to eat.

“One pita a day. Sometimes there were cans of tuna that the four of us shared,” he said. “Sometimes there was a piece of cheese. Once, they let us shower.”

Prior to October 7, some 30,000 Thai farmhands were employed in Israel, with around 5,000 of them working in communities close to the Gaza Strip.

During the October 7 onslaught in southern Israel, thousands of Hamas terrorists killed 1,200 people, among them 39 Thai workers, and seized some 240 hostages, 32 of them Thai.

Of the Thais taken hostage, 23 have been released since Friday, separately from a Qatar-negotiated truce between Israel and Hamas that secured the release of 73 Israeli hostages as of Wednesday. Israel has released 210 Palestinian prisoners, women and underaged males.

The details shared by the Thai hostage and reported by Channel 12 on Wednesday appear in line with testimonies of mistreatment by Hamas of hostages held in Gaza.

A Red Cross vehicle carrying newly released hostages drives towards the Rafah border point with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 28, 2023. (MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

On Wednesday, Prof. Ronit Lubetzky, head of the pediatric department at Ichilov Hospital, said the children lost 10-17 percent of their body weight during their 50-plus-day captivity.

Unlike the Israeli hostages who have been released over the last few days, the release of the Thai nationals has not come in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel. Nine are believed to remain in Hamas captivity.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Thailand’s Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara visited 17 freed Thai hostages in the Shamir Medical Center, where they were treated upon their release.

Cohen said that they had received “the most dedicated treatment” and that they would be entitled to the same welfare benefits as all other Israeli hostages, and expressed hope that the remaining Thai nationals still held in Hamas captivity would be released in the near future.

“Israel is committed to bringing back all the hostages, Israelis and foreigners alike,” said Cohen, and described Israeli-Thai relations as “true friendship.”

Renee Ghert-Zand and Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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