Thai Hostages Safe, Release Hinges on End of Gaza Bombing

Seyed Reza Nobakhti, the Iranian ambassador to Thailand, has assured that all Thai hostages are safe within Palestinian territories and that their release, along with other foreign captives, is tied to the cessation of Israeli military airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

In the aftermath of Hamas’ unexpected assault on Israel on October 7, the Palestinian group seized more than 200 individuals, including 19 Thais.

During a press conference organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Thailand) in Bangkok this past Friday, the ambassador emphasized that the Iranians are deeply concerned about the safety of the Thai hostages.

He conveyed the Iranian government’s heartfelt condolences for the losses Thailand has endured in the conflict, noting that thirty Thai individuals have tragically lost their lives since the onset of hostilities.

Regarding the Thai captives, Nobakhti revealed his awareness of a recent meeting in Qatar between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, where Raisi implored for the release of Thai and Filipino captives.

Efforts are underway, Nobakhti informed, with Iranian representatives actively engaging with Palestinian authorities in Beirut.

He noted that while Hamas consented to the captives’ liberation, their safe transit out of Gaza is impeded by relentless Israeli bombardment.

“Two days ago, a group of people were sent to Egypt, but there was an attack. About 70 of them were killed,” he reported.

“So, it is very dangerous for them [to release the hostages]. It is time for the government of Thailand and people around the world to push the Israeli government to stop the genocide in the Gaza Strip so that the hostages can return home safely.”

Detailing the current situation of the foreign captives, Nobakhti confirmed their relocation to secure locations within Gaza, though some lives were lost due to Israeli airstrikes.

“Around nine foreign hostages were killed because of the bombardment … but now, Hamas has been trying to keep them in very safe places. However, as there are many bombardments everywhere, it is very difficult to keep them safe,” he stated.

Anticipating a potential escalation should the airstrikes persist, Nobakhti expressed optimism for a de-escalation conducive to dialogue, aimed at a peaceful resolution of the captive situation and regional stability.

“The Palestinian side is ready for negotiations, and we hope Israel will be at the negotiation table so we will not witness the expansion of the conflict,” he continued. He applauded the Thailand for its neutral position over this conflict.

“[The Thai government] is doing their best, and I know that they are in contact with [the governments of] Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and so on and trying to bring back their Thai nationals,” Mr Nobakhti stated

“There is a way to release the Thai hostages because in the meeting between Iran and Mr Haniyeh … our leader explained to Hamas that the Thai people are like our brothers-sisters and asked them to try to keep them safe,” he said.

“They said the Thai hostages are safe and living with other Palestinian families, but unfortunately, Israelis keep bombarding all over, and this is the problem”, he revealed.