Hamas representatives have promised Thai negotiators that Thai hostages captured in Israel will be released when Israel ends its offensive against the Gaza Strip, where they are being held, according to a Thai Muslim leader.
SaiyidSulaiman Husaini, leader of an association of Shia Muslims in Thailand, said on Tuesday the commitment was made at talks between negotiators appointed by Parliament President Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and Hamas representatives at the office of an adviser to the president of Iran.
The negotiation team comprised Areepen Utarasin, Lerpong Sayed and Sayyid Mumin Sakkitticha.
Mr Areepen, an adviser to the parliament president, later confirmed the talks, which he said were in Teheran on Thursday last week.
According to Mr SaiyidSulaiman, Hamas agreed to free Thai hostages being held in the Gaza Strip when Israel halts its offensive or agrees to a ceasefire. Until then, it was not safe for the hostages to leave Gaza.
Hamas had confirmed that it held 19 Thai hostages, he said. All were safe and in good health.
He said Hamas had yet to confirm the names of three other Thais the Foreign Ministry reported were also taken captive.
According to Mr SaiyidSulaiman the only possible evacuation channel was the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the far south of the Gaza Strip. The Thai government might have to seek approval and assistance from Egypt for this, he said.
Mr Areepen, speaking at the parliament on Wednesday, confirmed that his group met Hamas representatives on Thursday last week.
He said the Hamas representatives said the Thai hostages were being well protected so they could later tell the international community about their living conditions with Hamas.
Hamas promised to release the Thais soon, but would not say when.
According to the Hamas representatives, announcing a schedule could trigger an attack which could cause the misunderstanding that Hamas hurt the hostages, Mr Areepen said.
Mr Areepen said his delegation held negotiations in Teheran because Iran was a supporter of Hamas and had influence over it. He said his delegation was the first to have official talks with Hamas since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct 7.
On Wednesday government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said the embassy in Tel Aviv had advised Thais wanting evacuation to show up at the Intercontinental Tel Aviv Hotel by 5pm on Wednesday for the last government chartered flight to Thailand. Evacuations would continue, but the numbers no longer justified chartered flights, he said.
The Thai embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday said the bodies of 11 more Thais killed in the conflict were being sent back home on El Al flight LY083, scheduled to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport at 12.40pm on Wednesday.
It is the third flight bringing home Thai victims of the Hamas-Israel war. Thirty-two Thai workers have been reported killed, along with 22 reported taken hostage and 19 injured.