February 24, 2024

A Thai Muslim group claimed their efforts secured the release of Thai hostages from Gaza during a truce, countering reports that gave credit to the foreign ministry and other negotiators. Three Thai hostages were released from Gaza on Sunday, taking the total to 17 since the truce began. The Thai-Iran Alumni Association President said their group spoke directly to Hamas and urged for the release of the Thai nationals. The group met with Hamas representatives in Tehran and conveyed that Thais were not part of the conflict and should be freed, after which Hamas agreed to release them once there was a ceasefire. Before the war, around 30,000 Thai laborers worked in Israel’s agriculture sector. Another member of the group, veteran politician Areepen Uttarasin, claimed they hit the right spot by going to Iran and talking directly to Hamas. However, a source briefed on the talks said the agreement was mediated by Qatar and Egypt. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it continues to work towards the safe release of the remaining hostages. Thailand’s population is predominantly Buddhist and has largely co-existed peacefully with its Muslim minority.