Thai hostages are 'safe'

Thai hostages are 'safe'

Release tied to the end of Gaza bombing

Seyed Reza Nobakhti, Iran's Ambassador to Thailand, promises all Thai hostages in Gaza will be safe at a press conference. (Photo: Pattanapong Chatpattarasill)
Seyed Reza Nobakhti, Iran's Ambassador to Thailand, promises all Thai hostages in Gaza will be safe at a press conference. (Photo: Pattanapong Chatpattarasill)

All Thai hostages are being safely kept in Palestinian territories, said Seyed Reza Nobakhti, the Iranian ambassador to Thailand, who added that they and other foreign hostages will be released when the Israeli military stops bombing the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militant group Hamas took at least 200 hostages, including 19 Thai workers, following its surprise attack on Israel on Oct 7.

Speaking at a press conference held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Thailand) in Bangkok on Friday, the ambassador said the well-being of Thai hostages is a primary concern of the Iranians.

He said the Iranian government would like to express its condolences over Thailand's losses in the conflict. Thirty Thais have been killed since hostilities broke out.

Regarding the Thais being held hostage, Mr Nobakhti said he was informed that Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar last week, with Mr Raisi asking for the release of Thai and Filipino hostages.

Mr Nobakhti said the Iranians are also trying their best to talk with Palestinian officials in Beirut.

He said that Hamas had agreed to release the hostages, but the problem was they could not send the hostages out of Gaza because of the ongoing Israeli bombardment.

"Two days ago, a group of people were sent to Egypt, but there was an attack. About 70 of them were killed," he said. "So, it is very dangerous for them [to release the hostages]. It is time for the government of Thailand and people in the world to push the Israeli government to stop the genocide in the Gaza Strip so that the hostages can go back home safely."

Mr Nobakhti described the current situation of all foreign hostages, saying they were in safe houses in Gaza, but he said some had been killed by the Israeli airstrikes.

"Around nine foreign hostages were killed because of the bombardment ... but now, Hamas has been trying to keep them in very safe places. But you know, as there are many bombardments everywhere, it is very difficult to keep them safe," he said.

Mr Nobakhti speculated that the war might expand if the bombardment of Gaza continues, but he hopes that it will cease so that negotiations can begin over the exchange of hostages and bring peace to the region.

"The Palestinian side is ready for negotiations, and we hope Israel will be at the negotiation table so we will not witness the expansion of the conflict," he added.

He praised the Thai government's neutral position over this conflict.

"[The Thai government] is doing their best, and I know that they are in contact with [the governments of] Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and so on and trying to bring back their Thai nationals," Mr Nobakhti said.

"There is a way to release the Thai hostages because in the meeting between Iran and Mr Haniyeh ... our leader explained to Hamas that the Thai people are like our brothers-sisters and asked them to try to keep them safe," he said.

"They said the Thai hostages are safe and living with other Palestinian families, but unfortunately, Israelis keep bombarding all over, and this is the problem", he added.

Somchai Virunhaphol of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Thailand) said that during a recent Hamas press conference in Qatar, the Palestinian group said they would take good care of all hostages and free them when the conflict eases.

"The first condition that I think will allow the release of foreign hostages is at least there should be a temporary ceasefire negotiation, which will provide a way to release hostages and other foreigners in Gaza who are ready to leave," Mr Somchai said.

He voiced concerns over the scarcity of food and water in the Gaza Strip as it is unknown how long food supplies will last for the hostages.

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