Comments by the Iranian Ambassador in Bangkok demonstrate Hamas is using the 19 Thai hostages as leverage to halt the bombardment of the enclave. Ambassador Seyed Reza Nobakhti said the Hamas leader had assured his Foreign Minister that the Thai hostages would be released, but this cannot happen until hostilities cease. However, Hamas, which Iran funds, made it clear that the hostages were being held in Palestinian safe houses but that no place was safe in Gaza

There is growing concern for the fate of 19 Thai hostages being held by the Hamas terrorist group who control the Gaza enclave as reports grow of an imminent offensive or invasion. This comes after comments from Iran’s Ambassador to Thailand, Mr Seyed Reza Nobakhti, on Friday, when he told reporters that the Hamas leader has promised to release the Thai nationals but only if Israel ceased its aggression, including aerial bombardment of Gaza.

Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ASEAN Summit in Riyadh. The de facto Saudi ruler committed himself to assisting Thailand in seeking the release of 19 hostages held since the Gaza invasion on October 7th. The hostages are believed to be in Gaza, being held by Hamas with fears that their life is in danger from aerial bombardment and the expected Israeli onslaught by land, which is now imminent.

On Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok will hold a briefing as Thai authorities grow increasingly concerned for the fate of 19 Thai hostages being held by the Hamas terrorist group within the Gaza Strip.

The Thai captives were taken when Hamas invaded Southern Israel on the morning of October 7th in an onslaught that brought about the death of 1,400 residents in an area bordering the densely populated Palestinian coastal strip, which is home to 2.3 million people and has been cut off from electricity, water and essential supplies.

Israel gets ready to invade Gaza with the ground assault thought to be imminent in a dangerous military exercise which will put hostages’ lives at risk

There is increasing evidence that Israel is preparing to invade Gaza in what has been described as an operation to change the security dynamic between it and the State of Israel. 

The Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the planned invasion on Thursday’s visits to Israeli military personnel deployed near the Gaza border.

The planned invasion is also aimed at destroying Hamas in Gaza in what military commentators have predicted will be a ‘long and intense’ operation.

Speaking with Al Jazeera on Friday, former US General and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director David Petraeus said it would be a ‘fiendishly difficult’ mission for Israel’s military to execute and would be made even more demanding by the existence of the hostages.

‘It’s hard to appreciate, in fact, how difficult this would be. We’ve described it as fiendishly difficult,’ former CIA director David Petraeus told the Qatar owned TV network.

‘Urban combat is always challenging, but when you add the presence of over 200 Israeli hostages, you add in an enemy who is willing to kill himself to take Israelis with them.’

Strong signals the ground assault is imminent

The signals from Israel are coming amid calls from the international community to allow more time for negotiations to rescue the 200 hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas, which Iran backs.

In Thailand, there is growing anxiety about the fate of the hostages being held with Filipino nationals in Palestinian safe houses.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Ambassador on Friday, at a weekly briefing given by Palestinian representatives in Bangkok, told reporters that Iran had received a somewhat disingenuous assurance from Hamas that the Thai hostages would be released.

Thai hostages cannot be released, says Hamas leader because of the continuous Israeli onslaught on Gaza, in a statement issued through Iranian channels

However, he pointed out it was impossible because of the continued Israeli bombardment of Gaza by air.

The fear is that Hamas is using the 200 hostages, including the Thai captives, as human shields to increase international pressure on Israel as it responds to the October 7th invasion and massacre of its citizens.

Speaking to Israeli Defense Force soldiers on Thursday, Defense Minister Yoav Galant assured them the order to enter the Gaza Strip would come ‘soon’.

‘You now see Gaza from afar. Soon you will see it from the inside,’ Mr Gallant told members of the Givati Brigade. ‘The order will come.’

Israeli PM tells soldiers they are on the verge of victory as they ready to launch a three-phase mission which will, according to sources, cut off Gaza forever

At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to another group of soldiers encamped just outside Gaza, assured them that Israel was on the verge of victory. 

‘We are going to win with all our might,’ the Israeli Prime Minister told them. ‘All of Israel is behind you, and we are going to heavily strike our enemies so that we can achieve victory.’

Israel has vowed to establish a ‘new security reality’ at the end of its military operation, including the imminent invasion of the Gaza Strip.

First phase will target Hamas

The first phase of the proposed invasion will see Israeli Defense Forces targeting Hamas’s military infrastructure in the area, followed by a second aiming to root out deep-seated Palestinian resistance that may have survived the first onslaught.

The third phase of the military operation will involve the ‘removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel,’ according to Defence Chief Yoav Gallant in a statement issued on Friday.

According to some analysts, this could mean a permanently closed border between Israel and Gaza with a buffer zone, with others speculating that it may ultimately lead to Gaza becoming part of Egypt or at least under Egyptian control.

Prime Minister Srettha got assurance of help from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudia Arabia to free hostages, but Iran controls Hamas

On Saturday, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, speaking from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he attended the ASEAN Gulf Cooperation Council Summit, expressed his growing concern about developments.

At the summit, he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, who indicated his support for efforts to release the Thai hostages.

Prime Minister Srettha told reporters that he had spoken with the 68-year-old Sultan of Oman, Haysam bin Tariq Assayed, during a lunch for leaders at the summit.

He said the Arab ruler was shocked to hear that 30 Thai nationals had been killed on the opening day of the conflict, with 19 confirmed as now being held hostage by Hamas.

However, Iran has the most decisive influence over Hamas, possibly followed by Qatar.

The Gulf state is known to be friendly with the militant terrorist organisation, where some of its leaders have been given refuge.

On the other hand, Iran finances Hamas. It is understood by US intelligence to have given the go-ahead for the October 7th atrocity days before on October 2nd at a clandestine meeting in Beirut.

Iranian ambassador says Iranian Foreign Minister has spoken to the Hamas leader in Qatar about the Thai hostages, but the news is quite discouraging

On Friday, Mr Seyed Reza Nobakhti, the Iranian ambassador in Bangkok, gave an update to reporters at the Almiroz Hotel in the Suan Luang District of the capital.

He highlighted the danger that the hostages are facing in Gaza as deadly air attacks from Israel continue.

It is already reported that nine of the two hundred hostages have been killed.

The identities or country of origin of those killed are unknown for now.

The Iranian envoy told reporters that any prospect of releasing the Thai hostages depended on establishing a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which is highly unlikely.

On Saturday, more than 300 people, mainly Palestinians living in Thailand and Muslims from the Southern provinces, protested in Bangkok outside the Israeli Embassy on Sukhumvit Soi 21 in Watthana district.

Palestinian voices heard in Bangkok, protest outside the Israeli Embassy as an Islamic leader slammed Israel, the United States, the UN and the media

The meeting heard Israel and the United States excoriated over the current situation.

The media was also attacked for labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation, a status imposed by the European Union and the United States.

Amid tight police security, an Islamic leader, Chaiyid Sulaiman Huzainee, described the war waged by Israel, supplied by the United States, as a genocide. He also criticised the United Nations.

‘Accepting oppression is the greatest evil. If the Palestine problem is not ended, the whole world will suffer. The United Nations protects the rights of Jews. Hamas brothers had to fight against them,’ he declared.

On Friday, October 13th, the Iranian Ambassador also appeared before the media at a meeting with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in Thailand.

Bangkok press conference features a video appearance by the Palestinian envoy to Thailand, who accepted that Thai hostages were innocent parties

The press conference included a video call from Mr Walid Abu Ali, the Palestinian Ambassador designated to Thailand, Malaysia, Maldives and Brunei, where an explanation of the current situation was given to the media.

The Palestinian envoy accepted that the conflict was between Hamas and Israel and did not involve other nations.

He accepted that the Thai hostages being held were not connected with the conflict and should be released but insisted this could only happen with a ceasefire.

At last Friday’s briefing, Mr Nobakhti said he had more information concerning the Thai hostages after the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mr Hossein Amir-Abdullahian, spoke with Mr Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas based in Qatar.

Relations between Iran and Thailand reported to be good despite that country’s financing of Hamas, who murdered 30 Thai nationals on October 7th

He told reporters that the Iranian minister had asked the Hamas leader to release the Filipino and Thai hostages as they were innocent parties to the conflict.

Mr Nobakhti also made it clear that Iran had good relations with Thailand.

On this occasion, the Hamas leader made his conditional promise to release the hostages once Israeli airstrikes had ceased.

The Iranian diplomat even claimed that Hamas had attempted to get the Thai hostages to safety, but this had occurred during an attack by Israel and told reporters that right now, no place in the Gaza Strip is safe.

The report will hardly encourage Thai officials.

Iranian envoy to Bangkok claims Israel not prioritising the rescue of Thai hostages but instead the prosecution of its military objectives in Gaza

He highlighted that Israel has made it clear that securing the release of the hostages is not its priority and that it is proceeding with its military campaign nonetheless.

On Saturday, 140 Thai returnees arrived home on a flight undertaken by the Royal Thai Air Force to Israel.

The Airbus A340-500 left on Saturday and could take a shorter route through the airspace of Myanmar, India, Oman, Jordan and Israel.

Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, on Saturday, expressed concern over the large and growing number of Thai nationals who wish to be evacuated from Israel, compared to the minuscule figure of Thais who have registered but opted to remain.

Nearly 8,500 Thai nationals have now sought to return, with over 1,500 already brought back to the kingdom. There were over thirty thousand Thai citizens in Israel before the invasion.

Thailand’s repatriation of its citizens gears up as more and more Thai workers in Israel seek to return home as the situation grows more dangerous

The latest figures come from Ms Kanchana Patarachoke, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok, who has been at the centre of Thailand’s response to the ongoing emergency. 

534 Thais arrived home on Saturday, while 311 were due to arrive on Sunday evening on an El Al flight.

Thai planners are ramping up operations with an initial flight for stranded nationals, bringing them to Dubai with plans for two daily flights back to the kingdom.

800 a day to be flown home via Dubai

Ms Kanchana, on Saturday, said that under the plan being put into action, the government should be able to repatriate up to 800 Thai nationals per day.

The situation in Israel continues to be unstable, with more threatening rhetoric coming from neighbouring countries as Arab populations become increasingly enraged by the mounting death toll in Gaza, which has now climbed over four thousand, primarily innocent civilians.

At the same time, at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) ASEAN summit in Saudi Arabia this weekend, countries called on Hamas to release the 200 hostages while also calling on Israel to cease its military operation and restore normality to the Palestinian enclave, including allowing UN aid and essential supplies into the territory.

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