Bangkok urges release of 6 Thai citizens still in captivity

Israel confirms 2 Thai nationals were killed on Oct. 7, bodies being held by Hamas

Hotline for Refugees and Migrants says news comes on what would have been 31st birthday of Sonthaya Oakkharasr, who along with Sudthisak Rinthalak was slaughtered at Kibbutz Be’eri

The destruction caused by Hamas terrorists when they infiltrated Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, southern Israel. October 25, 2023. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
The destruction caused by Hamas terrorists when they infiltrated Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, southern Israel. October 25, 2023. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Two Thai nationals who were believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas were confirmed on Thursday by the IDF to have been killed during the October 7 massacre and their bodies taken to Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces and the Foreign Ministry have notified the families of Sonthaya Oakkharasr and Sudthisak Rinthalak that they were killed during the terror onslaught, IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said in a press conference on Thursday evening.

The two had worked in agriculture in Kibbutz Be’eri, some four kilometers away from the Gaza border.

“On October 7, Hamas terrorists brutally murdered 39 Thai nationals, and kidnapped 31 Thai nationals to Gaza,” Hagari said. “Like them, other foreign nationals were abducted, including from Tanzania, Nepal, Mexico, the US, and France.”

“The terrible cruelty of Hamas was used against anyone that stood in its way, without distinction of their origin,” he said.

Some 30,000 Thai nationals were working in Israel on the eve of Hamas’s brutal massacre, many of them fieldhands in agricultural areas near the Gaza border. When thousands of Hamas-led terrorists poured into southern Israel on October 7, slaughtering some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages, the nature of their work left them exposed to the terror group’s violent murder spree.

Eight Thai nationals, including the deceased, are believed to remain hostage in Gaza after 23 were released as part of a weeklong truce deal in late November. One Filipino laborer was also released during the truce, along with 81 Israeli civilians.

In a statement following Hagari’s press briefing, the Thai foreign ministry said it had been informed by the country’s embassy in Tel Aviv about the deaths of the two men, “upon consideration of the available evidence.”

Extending condolences to the families of Oakkharasr and Rinthalak, the Thai government called for “the immediate release of all remaining hostages, including the six remaining Thai nationals in Gaza, so that they may return home safely.”

It also urged “all sides to exercise their utmost efforts in negotiations leading to an urgent solution to the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants said that Thursday, May 16, would have been Oakkharasr’s 31st birthday.

“We share in the grief of the families of Sudthisak Rinthalak and Sonthaya Oakkharasr, who discovered this evening that their loved ones were murdered on October 7 and their bodies have been held captive ever since,” wrote the organization, which supports refugees, migrant workers and victims of human trafficking in Israel.

“Just today we celebrated Oakkharasr 31st birthday, without knowing that he was no longer alive.”

“In the horrific massacre carried out by Hamas on October 7, 66 immigrants were murdered — far above their proportion in the Israeli population. People who were innocent of any crime, who crossed the world to make a living and ensure a better future for themselves and their families,” the organization added. “To Hamas, for all intents and purposes, they were Israelis.”

The hotline noted that in addition to the two men, six other Thai citizens as well as Nepalese farming student Bipin Joshi and the body of Tanzanian citizen Joshua Mollel remain in the hands of the terror group.

“Israel invited them here to work our fields, and it has the moral responsibility to return them to their families,” the statement said

A relative hugs a Thai overseas worker who was evacuated from Israel after Hamas’s October 7 attacks, as he and others arrived at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakarn Province, Thailand, on October 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit, File)

It is believed that 128 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — not all of them alive — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four others were released prior to that.

Three hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 12 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the military.

The IDF has confirmed the deaths of 38 of those still held by Hamas, citing new intelligence and findings obtained by troops operating in Gaza.

One more person has been listed as missing since October 7, and their fate is still unknown.

Hamas is also holding the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin since 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are both thought to be alive after entering the Strip of their own accord while suffering from mental illness in 2014 and 2015 respectively.

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