Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nu-Kara flies to the Middle East for meetings in Egypt and Qatar. Qatar is currently the headquarters of the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

There is a rising fear for Thai nationals being held hostage in Gaza by the militant Hamas terrorist organisation, with the government of Srettha Thavisin appearing increasingly uncomfortable with an emerging reality that Thailand seems to be among the nations to have suffered the most apart from Israel itself, a fact that is playing ducks and drakes with the Kingdom’s carefully calibrated foreign policy.

The government steps up its efforts to free Thai hostages held by Hamas in Gaza as Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nu-Kara (centre) flies to the region amid raised fears and tensions.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denounced the Israeli envoy to the United Nations for publishing a video of a Thai victim of the October 7th massacre perpetrated by Hamas fighters in Southern Israel as the Prime Minister has become insistent that all Thai nationals must leave Israel while warning against any media messaging which questions the narrative of Thailand acting as a neutral player while calling for Israel to agree to a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds as Hamas, using international hostages as leverage, maintains that such conditions are necessary for releasing its captives including those held from Thailand.

The position of the government is becoming more obtuse as it tries to navigate a neutral course even as the death toll of its nationals murdered in the October 7th massacre by Hamas in its shock invasion of Israel has risen to 32 and may even go higher.

There are also growing doubts about the number of Thais held hostage as it continues to grow with a press report, strenuously refuted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday, suggesting that up to 54 Thais could now be held by the terrorist group Hamas in underground tunnels in Gaza.

Credible reports last week suggesting as many as 54 Thais were being held hostage by Hamas were strenuously denied by senior officials in Bangkok

These reports, however, were issued by Reuters and sourced from officials with the Israeli government.

The Thai government, on Monday, did admit that a further three Thai nationals were being held hostage by Hamas.

This Iranian-backed terrorist group forcefully took over Gaza in 2007 and is committed to the violent destruction of Israel. 

On Monday morning, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin conceded that the number of hostages has increased and also accepted that several Thai citizens were missing or unaccounted for in the official tallies. 

The Prime Minister appears to be increasingly of the view that all Thai nationals must be evacuated from Israel and on Monday insisted that the priority for his government was to seek the rescue of those Thai hostages whom Hamas is holding.

PM claims situation on the ground in Israel is deteriorating, making it more difficult to fully account for all Thai nationals in the country at war

Prime Minister Srettha said that the deteriorating security situation in Israel and a need for better communications are preventing Thai officials from finalising their understanding of the exact status of all nationals in Israel. 

It comes with the Thai government becoming increasingly engaged with Palestinian representatives and officials of the Iranian government in its efforts to try to secure the release of the hostages.

Anxious Thai officials are being told repeatedly by Hamas representatives that the Kingdom’s hostages will be released.

But such assurances are always accompanied by an insistence that such an outcome is strictly conditional on a ceasefire and the right environment to affect the return of the hostages physically.

Thai hostages held by Hamas used to leverage influence over Israel as it prepares to invade Gaza

Indeed, it is clear from this message that this is the reason Hamas took international hostages in the first place from Southern Israel, which is now being used as leverage against countries such as Thailand. 

Foreign Minister flies to the Middle East as a delegation from Thailand held talks in Tehran over the weekend in a desperate bid to free Thai hostages

The efforts by the government to secure the release of the, as yet unknown, final tally of Thai hostages has seen a delegation from Thailand organised by House Speaker Wan Muhamad Noor Matha travelling to Tehran at the end of last week and meeting representatives of Hamas there on Friday.

The Thai delegation was led by Narathiwat MP Areepen Uttarasin and Mr Lerpong Syed, brother of Mr Saiyid Sulaiman Husaini, a key leader of Shia Muslims in Thailand.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Thailand’s Foreign Minister, Parnpree Bahiddha-Nu-Kara, was heading to the Middle East for talks in Egypt and Qatar.

Qatar is currently the headquarters of the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

At the same time, there is mounting concern about the status of Thai hostages being held. 

This anxiety has been accompanied by a more critical stance from the Thai government towards Israel and its actions in the growing conflict.

Complaints and tensions over Thai nationals being enticed to continue working in Israel and over unpaid salaries as the world divides on another War

There were complaints from Thai officials last week that Israeli business interests were trying to entice Thai workers to remain in Israel. In contrast, some Thai nationals still need to be paid.

Israel’s Ambassador to Thailand, Mr Orna Sagiv, has assured them that unpaid salaries would be paid as they leave the country.

Thailand also finds itself in the maelstrom of a struggle increasingly aligned with the geo-political battle between the United States and key allies pitted against the axis or alliance of Russia, China and Iran.

Over the weekend, the ground offensive got underway in Gaza with precise Israeli incursions amid fears that a potential regional conflict could ensue.

On Friday, Thailand was one of 120 states that voted in favour of a resolution at the United Nations calling for a humanitarian truce in the violent Israeli-Hamas war, which now entails a constant aerial bombardment of the Gaza enclave, with Israeli ground forces swinging into action since the weekend.

At the same time, rocket bombardment of Israel from Hamas positions in Gaza, where it is being reported that thousands of Hamas militants are entrenched in deep underground bunkers with supplies of fuel and food to last them from 4 to 5 months, continues at a forceful level.

Only 14 countries voted with Israel last Friday at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, with 45 countries abstaining on the Ceasefire vote

During last Friday’s vote at the United Nations, only 14 countries voted with Israel and the United States against the ceasefire resolution, while 45 countries abstained.

Those that abstained included Greece, Germany, Panama, Canada, Australia, Iceland, India, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Serbia, and the United Kingdom. 

On Sunday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok issued a stinging rebuke of the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Gilad Erdan, after the envoy showed a video on Thursday to members of the General Assembly showing members of a Hamas terrorist unit on October 7th decapitating what the Ambassador described as a Thai contract worker on a farm in southern Israel.

The Israeli Ambassador showed the video as he argued that Israel was entitled to defend itself against the inhuman acts of the Hamas paramilitary force that invaded his country on October 7th.

Disturbing video of Thai victim being beheaded

In the video, the Hamas militants can be seen arguing about who should be allowed to use a gardening implement to hack off the Thai worker’s head, which one eventually does while being recorded. 

Some reports claim that the attackers had already shot the Thai victim.

The Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations argued that such was the savage nature of the conflict that Israel was justified in deploying massive force against Gaza, where Hamas is using the civilian population as human shields.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the display of the video was disrespectful to the dead and showed no consideration or feelings for the victim’s family. 

Prime Minister is sensitive about media reporting on the explosive Israeli-Hamas conflict as the country fears for its nationals held prisoner in Gaza

Control of the media messaging is increasingly on the mind of the Prime Minister, Mr Srettha Thavisin. 

On Monday, he was asked if he thought that Hamas was especially targeting Thai nationals in its struggle with Israel.

‘Don’t say things like that,’ the Prime Minister replied to reporters.

Prime Minister Srettha explained that he believed that the Thai nationals caught up in the conflict were simply victims of war and that the reason so many Thais have suffered because of the invasion was merely because more Thai workers were in Israel than any other nationality.

On Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kanchana Patarachoke confirmed that the number of Thai dead in the Hamas attack on southern Israel had risen to 33, with 18 injured and 18 being held hostage.

This figure for those held hostage is now thought to have risen by 3 to 21 people as of Monday with the acceptance of Thai officials that they have not fully accounted for all Thai workers in Israel at the time of the October 7th invasion and massacre.

The number of Thais repatriated from Israel is approaching 5,000 citizens, and the Prime Minister has insisted that all Thai citizens in Israel, up to 30,000 before the war, should leave that country as soon as possible. 

Thai nationals urged by the government to fly home immediately out of Israel, but some are determined to stay in the country despite the ongoing conflict

There are reports that Thailand is preparing to send a cabinet minister, possibly Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Parnpree Bahiddha-Nu-Kara, to Israel to expedite the removal of the Thai population. 

However, the Prime Minister would not be drawn further on this proposal on Monday, saying his priority right now is to secure the release of the Thai hostages and that the government was pleased with the assistance it is receiving from all countries.

The PM urged Thai workers in Israel to finally decide to return home, although it is reported that some Thais are adamant about staying in a country which has offered them employment.

Mr Srettha was speaking to reporters on Monday morning as he left the military wing of Don Mueang Airport on a visit to Udon Thani and Laos.

The Prime Minister insisted to reporters that Thailand was not part of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. He insisted the Kingdom did not want to become embroiled in it.

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Further reading:

Thai hostages held by Hamas used to leverage influence over Israel as it prepares to invade Gaza

Israel to pay ฿35k per month to wives of Thai workers killed in Hamas raid and child support

PM says all Thais in Israel can be rescued as war is declared with fears of an even wider conflagration

Rogue Israeli tourist is taken into custody by Immigration Bureau police prior to deportation

On the run Israeli tourist tracked down to Ko Samui, surrenders to authorities, taken to hospital

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