October 31, 2023
BANGKOK – The Foreign Ministry announced on Sunday night that the number of Thais being held hostage has risen from 19 to 22, though the number of deaths and injured remains the same at 32 and 19 respectively.
Speaking to reporters before boarding a plane for Laos in Udon Thani, Srettha said three more Thais had been confirmed taken hostage by Hamas, while several others were still unaccounted for.
He said getting around Israel was becoming more difficult now that it has kicked off ground operations into the Gaza Strip. Hence, he said, Thai nationals who are still in Israel should take steps to return home as soon as possible.
Srettha explained that picking up Thai workers from areas near the war zone is also becoming riskier.
He added that his government has also stepped up efforts to negotiate the release of Thai hostages.
Among them are ongoing negotiations led by the leader of Thailand’s Shi’ite Muslim branch in Malaysia, Srettha said.
“Our most important goal is to free the hostages and have them repatriated as soon as possible,” the premier said.
“Now all countries are helping us and have goodwill towards us. We must use the right channels to avoid confusion in negotiations. So, we can’t say anything clearly.”
When asked if Hamas militants were targeting Thai workers, Srettha said reporters should avoid saying this.
“We are not a special target of any group but are war victims. Moreover, there are more Thais than other nationals working in Israel, so we are affected more,” he said.