Bangkok, Oct 31 (EFE).- Thailand’s foreign affairs minister on Tuesday was embarking on a trip to Qatar and Egypt to engage in talks for the release of 22 Thais taken hostage by Hamas during its assault on Israel on Oct. 7.
A Thai woman shows a picture of her grandson Arnan Phetkaeo, a worker killed by Hamas in Israel, as relatives wait to receive the returned bodies from Israel, at Suvarnabhumi Airport, in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, 20 October 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK
Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara was scheduled to meet his Qatari counterpart in Doha later Tuesday, and on Wednesday with Egypt’s foreign minister in Cairo to “discuss the situation of Thai nationals being held hostage as a result of the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza,” the foreign affairs ministry said in a brief statement.
The diplomatic efforts to seek the release of the Thais come alongside negotiations that have been taking place since Friday in Iran.
“Negotiations are progressing tremendously. The details and conditions of the release are yet to be revealed,” said Saiyid Sulaiman Husaini, leader of an association of Shiite Muslims in Thailand and part of the negotiations, on Sunday night.
According to the religious leader, Thai House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha heads a delegation that has been holding meetings with Hamas delegates in Tehran.
Thailand has one of the largest populations of migrant workers in Israel and also has one of the highest numbers of fatalities resulting from the incursion of the armed wing of Hamas in Israeli areas near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that in addition to the 22 kidnapped, 32 Thais were killed and 19 injured as a result of the attack.
Some 30,000 Thais were in Israel, including 5,000 employed in the agricultural sector near the Gaza Strip, at the time of the Hamas assault.
To date, Thailand has operated 23 evacuation flights from Israel with a total of 4,771 people repatriated, while more are expected in the coming days, according to the latest official figures.
Hamas’ attack on Israeli territory killed more than 1,400 people and injured 5,000, while subsequent Israeli bombings in Gaza have killed more than 8,306 – around half of them children – and injured more than 21,048. EFE