Ten Thai hostages relieved to get freedom as PM says thanks

Ten Thai hostages relieved to get freedom as PM says thanks

FREEDOM, at last: Ten Thai nationals, including one woman, take a group photo with Thai embassy staff at the Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, after they were released by the Hamas group.
FREEDOM, at last: Ten Thai nationals, including one woman, take a group photo with Thai embassy staff at the Shamir Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel, after they were released by the Hamas group.

The government has expressed its gratitude to all sides taking part in negotiations which led to the release on Friday of the first 10 Thai nationals being held hostage by Hamas.

It is also promising to speed up efforts seeking the release of the other 20 Thais being held by the terror group.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said he would like to thank all concerned, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the governments of Qatar, Israel, Iran, Egypt and Malaysia and security agencies led by the chief of the defence forces, Gen Songwit Noonpakdi.

Gen Songwit has worked closely with various international organisations, which led to the release of the 10 Thai hostages.

They are Ms Natthawaree Mulkan, Santi Boonphrom, Boonthom Phankhong, Mongkhol Prachuapboon, Withoon Phumee, Wichai Kalapat, Bancha Kongmanee, Buddee Saengboon, Uthai Thungsri and Uthai Saengnuan.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara will pick them up in Israel and take them home, said Mr Srettha.

Some need medical care so it was unclear when they would get home. They were kidnapped in the Oct 7 attacks on Israel.

Officials from the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv visited the Thais at Shamir Medical Center on Friday after Hamas freed them, said Mr Parnpree.

They underwent health check-ups at the hospital. One man had sustained ear injuries which require treatment, while the rest are healthy. What they needed most was a shower, reportedly.

They are to stay at the hospital for 48 hours under close observation by Israeli doctors, according to the MFA. All will be entitled to benefits as victims of terrorism under Israeli law.

Both Mr Srettha and Mr Parnpree confirmed yesterday that negotiations with Hamas are continuing via Qatar, Iran and Egypt for the release of the other Thai hostages.

Mr Parnpree said four of the 10 released on Friday had not been identified by the Israeli authorities as being held captive by Hamas before, meaning the actual number of Thais detained by Hamas was 30, not 26 as previously thought.

With 10 of them now released, 20 are still are being held, he said.

The MFA on Friday congratulated Israel and Hamas for reaching an agreement on a pause in the war triggered by the attack to allow humanitarian aid to get into Gaza and the release of the hostages as requested by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

In Khon Kaen, the mother of the female hostage released by Hamas, breathed a sigh of relief upon learning the news, calling it a miracle.

Boonyarin Srichan, 56, a resident of tambon Khok Samran in Ban Haed district, burst into tears of joy after the MFA confirmed that her daughter and son-in-law, Natthawaree Mulkan, 35, and her husband Boonthom Phankhong, 45, were among those released.

"I am so happy I can't sleep. When I saw a photo sent by a friend of my daughter, I breathed a sigh of relief. Both my daughter and son-in-law are safe and look healthy," Ms Boonyarin said.

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