According to a Thai Muslim official, Hamas leaders have guaranteed Thai negotiators that Thai hostages abducted in Israel will be released after Israel concludes its offensive against the Gaza Strip, where they are being kept.
On Tuesday, SaiyidSulaiman Husaini, leader of a Shia Muslim club in Thailand, said the agreement was made during meetings between negotiators selected by Parliament President Wan Muhamad Noor Matha and Hamas members at the office of an adviser to Iran’s president.
Areepen Utarasin, Lerpong Sayed, and Sayyid Mumin Sakkitticha made up the negotiating team.
Mr Areepen, a parliament president’s aide, later confirmed the meetings, which he said took place in Teheran on Thursday last week.
According to Mr SaiyidSulaiman, Hamas has pledged to release Thai prisoners detained in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Israel ceasing its offensive or agreeing to a truce. It was not safe for the hostages to leave Gaza till then.
He claimed that Hamas has verified that it was holding 19 Thai hostages. Everyone was safe and well. Saying Hamas has yet to authenticate the identity of three more Thais purportedly abducted by the Foreign Ministry.
The only potential escape route, according to Mr SaiyidSulaiman, was the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, located in the deep south of the Gaza Strip. According to him, the Thai government may need to seek clearance and support from Egypt for this.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, Mr Areepen acknowledged that his delegation met with Hamas representatives on Thursday last week.
He stated that Hamas representatives stated that the Thai hostages were being well-protected so that they could subsequently inform the international community about their living conditions with Hamas.
Hamas pledged to free the Thais shortly, but did not specify when.
According to Hamas representatives, releasing a timeline could spark an attack, leading to the mistaken belief that Hamas was harming the captives, Mr Areepen claimed.
Mr Areepen stated that his delegation attended talks in Tehran because Iran supported Hamas and had influence over it. He claimed that his delegation was the first to hold official negotiations with Hamas since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on October 7.
On Wednesday, government spokesperson Chai Wacharonke said the embassy in Tel Aviv had encouraged Thais who wanted to evacuate to arrive at the Intercontinental Tel Aviv Hotel by 5 p.m. for the last government chartered flight to Thailand. He indicated that while evacuations would continue, the numbers would no longer justify chartered flights.
According to the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv, the bodies of 11 more Thais murdered in the fighting are being returned home aboard El Al flight LY083, which is due to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport at 12.40pm on Wednesday.
It is the third flight transporting Thai casualties of the Hamas-Israel conflict home. Thirty-two Thai labourers have been reported slain, 22 taken captive, and 19 injured.