Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed condolences to Thailand over the deaths of Thai nationals and promised full support in rescuing Thais held hostage by Hamas fighters, according to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.
Speaking on Wednesday after a phone conversation with the Israeli leader, Mr Srettha said Mr Netanyahu expressed sorrow over the losses because the Thai victims were innocent, and he promised to do his best to rescue Thai hostages safely as soon as possible.
According to the government, 32 Thai people were killed and 22 were abducted after Hamas fighters from Gaza crossed into Israel on Oct 7.
Mr Srettha said he asked Mr Netanyahu to help facilitate the return of any Thai workers who still want to leave Israel, as nearly all of the 8,500 people who had registered to come home have now returned.
He said Israel could not confirm when hostages could be released but negotiations were ongoing.
Hamas representatives have reportedly promised Thai negotiators who travelled to Iran for talks that Thai hostages would be released when Israel ends its offensive in the Gaza Strip. Until then, it is not considered safe to try to bring the hostages out of Gaza.
Mr Srettha said he asked Mr Netanyahu to take care of Thai workers because they are not part of the conflict and have helped contribute to Israel’s development. The Israeli prime minister, he said, also promised to help if Thai workers want to return to Israel after conditions returns to normal.
“He said to me that he would phone us directly if there is progress (in the hostage situation). And if negotiations may lead to some kind of exchange, he will tell us,” Mr Srettha said.
“I said we are open to all (possibilities). I wish for Thai people to return as soon as possible regardless of the methods,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Srettha insisted evacuations of Thai nationals from Israel would continue, although the government would not arrange for chartered flights unless there were enough passengers.
The last government-chartered flight to Thailand was scheduled to leave on Wednesday evening local time. Evacuations would continue after that, but the numbers no longer justified more charters, government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said.