The number of Thai workers held captive following the attack by Hamas in Israel has reached 22, announced Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Monday. He stated that the Foreign Ministry had confirmed the abduction of three more individuals.
Responding to the press at the Wing 23 air terminal in Udon Thani airport, he prepared to embark on an official journey to Laos.
Mr. Srettha noted the worsening situation in Israel, with the onset of Israel’s ground response complicating travel within the conflict zone.
He urged Thai workers remaining in Israel to immediately reach out to Thai officials to organize their evacuation, anticipating the escalation of the situation.
Thai representatives are in discussions to secure the release of the Thai hostages. Mr. Srettha mentioned that the chief of the armed forces had visited Malaysia as a part of these negotiations.
In response to a query regarding Hamas specifically targeting Thai workers, Mr. Srettha thinks Thailand’s non-involvement in the Israel-Hamas dispute likely did not make them a target.
“We are not a target of any group. We are more like victims of the war. We have been more affected because there are more workers from Thailand in Israel than from other counties,” Mr Srettha explained.
“So I have tried calling on Thai workers to quickly return home because in this situation travel has become more and more difficult.”
“Today I will talk to Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, and get an update of the situation. More people may have to leave, for negotiations,” he continued.
When questioned about Thais potentially trapped near the Gaza Strip, Mr. Srettha acknowledged that some were still listed as missing. “We are assessing the situation. But, with the ground offensive, communications are out, making it more difficult,” he stated.
Regarding the possibility of sending a cabinet minister to the Middle East to facilitate the release of hostages, Mr. Srettha emphasized that the government is taking all possible measures to attain this objective.