Mediator: 25 Thai hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are ‘safe’

Thai politician Lepong Syed says hostages could be released in ’10 days or less’ if ceasefire is agreed on by Israel and Hamas

A billboard bearing portraits of Israeli hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists in the October 7 attack in southern Israel is displayed during a demonstration calling for their release, in Tel Aviv on November 15, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
A billboard bearing portraits of Israeli hostages taken by Palestinian terrorists in the October 7 attack in southern Israel is displayed during a demonstration calling for their release, in Tel Aviv on November 15, 2023. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Thailand’s government has been given assurances by Hamas that 25 of its nationals held hostage by the Palestinian terror group are “safe,” a member of the kingdom’s hostage release negotiating team said Thursday.

The hostages could be released in days if a ceasefire is agreed on by Israel and Hamas, Thai politician Lepong Syed said.

More than 240 people were taken hostage during Hamas’s October 7 murderous rampage, in which terrorists burst across the border from the Gaza Strip into Israel, killing at least 1,200 people.

In response, the Israeli military has pounded Gaza with an air and ground offensive, aimed at destroying Hamas’s military and governance capabilities. The Hamas-controlled health ministry has said more than 11,500 people, including thousands of children, have been killed in the war, though these figures cannot be independently verified. The Palestinian numbers are believed to include both civilians and terror operatives killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

Lepong, who is part of his government’s mediation team, said Bangkok was assured by Hamas that the Thai hostages were safe and would “return to the motherland soon.”

“The Thai nationals in captivity are safe,” he said, adding that they could be released only if a ceasefire were announced. “I hope that it will be less than 10 days, or even a few days.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (R) meets with his counterpart from Thailand Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara in Cairo on November 1, 2023, to discuss the situation of Thai hostages held by Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Thailand’s negotiating team — mostly consisting of Thai Muslims — had been in hourly contact with the terror group, he said.

“We have pushed for the Thais to be released soon, and Hamas has assured us,” said Lepong, president of the Thai-Iran alumni association.

Lepong’s comments come after the Thai foreign minister traveled to Qatar earlier this month to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart over the Thai nationals’ release.

About 30,000 Thais were working in Israel, mostly in the agriculture sector, at the time of the attack, according to the kingdom’s labor ministry.

Thirty-nine Thai citizens were killed and 19 wounded in the Hamas invasion, and the kingdom evacuated more than 8,500 of its people, according to the Thai foreign ministry.

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