According to an informed source, the release of hostages was not linked to the truce deal with Israel. Instead, Thailand followed a distinct track of negotiations with Hamas, facilitated by mediation from Egypt and Qatar.
In a significant development, the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues to detain 20 Thai nationals despite releasing 10 individuals in Gaza, as confirmed by Thailand’s foreign ministry on Saturday. This occurred following a negotiated deal during the initial truce of a seven-week-long conflict.
According to the ministry’s statement, the liberated hostages are expected to return home after spending 48 hours in the hospital. This deal was distinct from the hostage exchange on Friday, where Palestinians were released from Israeli jails.
The ministry clarified, “There are now an estimated 20 Thai nationals who remain abducted,” but noted that Israel had not previously confirmed the captivity of four individuals released on Friday. Expressing hope for humane treatment, the ministry urged the swift and safe release of the remaining hostages.
Among the released hostages was the sole Thai woman known to be held by Hamas, as depicted in photographs from the ministry. Reports indicate that this release was unrelated to the truce with Israel, following a separate set of negotiations mediated by Egypt and Qatar for Thailand.
Acknowledging the collaborative efforts, the ministry thanked the governments of Egypt, Iran, Israel, Malaysia, Qatar, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and others involved in the “immense efforts” leading to the release.
Earlier reports suggested about a dozen Thais had been released. Thailand has a significant migrant workforce in Israel, with approximately 30,000 nationals employed, mainly in agriculture.
Wichai Kalapat, among those freed on Friday, was initially believed to be among at least 30 Thai nationals killed in the October 7 attacks, as indicated by his girlfriend’s social media posts mourning his supposed death. The group also included Nutthawaree Munkan, the only Thai woman held by Hamas, a factory worker, and a mother from a rural and impoverished region seeking opportunities abroad.
Thongkoon Onkaew, whose son Natthaporn Onkaew remains in captivity, expressed anticipation for positive news while waiting for updates from authorities.