Thai foreign minister travels to Qatar, Egypt for talks on hostages held by Hamas

Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara to discuss situation of 22 of his country’s nationals who were abducted from Israel to Gaza during terror group’s onslaught

Thailand's Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara arrives at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, September 5, 2023. (Sakchai Lalit/AP)
Thailand's Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara arrives at the government house in Bangkok, Thailand, September 5, 2023. (Sakchai Lalit/AP)

Thailand’s foreign minister began an urgent visit to Qatar and Egypt on Tuesday for talks on the fate of the Thais taken hostage by Hamas in its devastating attack on Israel earlier this month, when the terror group killed over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducted at least 241.

Twenty-two of the captives being held in Gaza are Thai nationals, the foreign ministry in Bangkok has said. Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said Monday his government was working hard to get Thai citizens home.

He has dispatched Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara to meet the Qatari prime minister and foreign minister on Tuesday, before talks with the Egyptian foreign minister on Wednesday.

Parnpree will “discuss the situation of Thai nationals being held hostage as a result of the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza,” the ministry said in a statement.

Qatar has been involved in efforts to release hostages.

About 30,000 Thais were working in Israel, many in the agricultural sector, when Hamas launched its attack. Over 2,500 terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, then murderously rampaged through southern areas, slaughtering those they found and seizing hostages under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities. The vast majority of those killed were civilians, including babies, children and the elderly.

Hamas terrorists cross the Israel-Gaza border fence on October 7, 2023 (Kan TV screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

At least 32 Thais were killed in the attack and 19 wounded, according to the ministry.

“We are more like victims of the war,” Srettha told reporters before a trip to neighboring Laos on Monday. “We have been more affected because there are more workers from Thailand in Israel than from other countries.”

Srettha said the government would provide financial help for Thais wanting to return home from Israel.

“The reason why Thais won’t return to Thailand is because of money,” he said.

“We are providing financial aid of 50,000 baht ($1,400) per person, including those who already returned,” Srettha told reporters.

Israel is still tallying the number of people it believes were taken captive, but last week it said that over half — 138 — have foreign passports for 25 countries, and over 200 foreigners or dual nationals were killed or abducted in the October 7 onslaught.

Thirty-one Americans died, according to the White House, and 13 have been listed as missing. US President Joe Biden has said that there are Americans among the hostages. An American woman and her daughter were freed last Friday.

At least 12 Britons were killed and five have been listed as missing, according to the British government.

Thirty-five French people were killed and nine are being held hostage or listed as missing, according to a new toll published on Thursday by the French foreign ministry. Among the hostages is a young woman, Mia Shem, who appeared in a video released on October 16 by Hamas.

Among countries with nationals who were victims are Ukraine, 21, Russia, 19, Nepal, 10, Germany, 10, Argentina, 9, Canada, 6, Romania, 5, Portugal, 4, China, 4, Philippines, 4, and Austria, 4.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in an ongoing military campaign and replace the terror group, which has ruled the Strip since 2007.

Most Popular
read more: