Foreign Ministry: Hamas still holds 20 Thai nationals

Foreign Ministry: Hamas still holds 20 Thai nationals

This image grab taken from an AFPTV video footage shows an International Red Cross vehicle reportedly carrying hostages released by Hamas crosses the Rafah border point in the Gaza Strip towards Egypt from where they would be flown to Israel to be reunited with their families, on Friday. (Photo: AFP)
This image grab taken from an AFPTV video footage shows an International Red Cross vehicle reportedly carrying hostages released by Hamas crosses the Rafah border point in the Gaza Strip towards Egypt from where they would be flown to Israel to be reunited with their families, on Friday. (Photo: AFP)

Palestinian militant group Hamas is still holding 20 Thai nationals after having freed 10 from Gaza, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Saturday, following a deal during the first truce of a seven-week war.

The freed hostages will return home after 48 hours in hospital, the ministry said in a statement after the deal brokered separately from Friday's exchange of hostages for Palestinians from Israeli jails.

"There are now an estimated 20 Thai nationals who remain abducted," the ministry said, however, adding that four of the Thais released on Friday had not previously been confirmed by Israel to be in captivity.

"We sincerely hope the remaining hostages will be treated humanely and released safely as soon as possible."

Among those released was the only Thai woman known to be held by Hamas, photographs from the ministry showed, as the group met doctors at a medical centre in Israel.

A source briefed on the negotiations said the release was unrelated to the truce deal with Israel and followed a separate track of talks with Hamas mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

The ministry thanked the governments of Egypt, Iran, Israel, Malaysia, Qatar and the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as others involved in the "immense efforts" that led to the release.

Earlier reports had said about a dozen Thais had been released.

About 30,000 Thai nationals work in Israel, forming one of its largest groups of migrant workers, many in agriculture.

Among those freed on Friday were Wichai Kalapat whose girlfriend told the BBC she had spotted him alive in a car carrying hostages from the border.

She had initially believed him to have been among at least 30 Thai nationals killed in the Oct 7 attacks and had posted messages mourning him on social media.

The group included the only Thai woman to have been held, Natthawaree Mulkan, who is a factory worker and mother from a rural and impoverished region that many leave to seek opportunities abroad.

Thongkoon Onkaew told Reuters that authorities said her son, Natthaporn Onkaew, a 26-year-old farm worker, was not among the first group released, however, adding, "I’m waiting for good news."

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