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Israel-Palestine war: Hamas releases 12 Thai workers held in Gaza

The release is part of a separate deal in addition to the temporary truce and prisoner exchange with Israel
Members of the media and people gather at Rafah border as Hamas release hostages, 24 November 2023 (Reuters)
Members of the media and people gather at Rafah border as Hamas release hostages, 24 November 2023 (Reuters)

Thailand’s Prime Minister Srettha Thavisi said on Friday that 12 Thai workers have been released from captivity in Gaza

The announcement was made on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter after reports surfaced over their potential release. 

"It has been confirmed by the Security Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there are 12 Thai hostages already released.

"Embassy officials are on their way to pick them up in another hour. They should know their names and details. Please stay tuned," the post read.

The workers were released on the same day as the hostage swap deal which came into effect early on Friday.

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This includes Hamas releasing 50 Israeli prisoners held in Gaza in exchange for 150 Palestinian women and children imprisoned by Israel, as well as a pause in the bombardment of Gaza.

Around 23 Thai nationals were believed to have been taken to Gaza on 7 October by Hamas-led fighters, and 39 Thais were killed, according to the Thai government. Bangkok has been attempting to repatriate its nationals since. 

According to an unnamed Egyptian source quoted in the London-based news site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed on Thursday, Hamas is also set to release the remaining Thai hostages following Iranian mediation between Hamas and Bangkok.

Last week, a member of the Thai hostage release negotiating team said that his government had been given assurances by Hamas that 25 of its nationals held hostage were “safe,” and could be released in the coming days.

Truce takes effect

Thousands of Thai nationals were working in Israel when Hamas-led Palestinian combatants launched an attack on Israel on 7 October. Many worked in agricultural jobs near the Gaza border.

Hamas has previously reiterated that the group is open to negotiating to release even more civilian captives currently held in Gaza, including men. However, it said there would be a higher price for releasing Israeli soldiers held.

Israel-Palestine war: Gaza truce offers Palestinians the chance to sleep, eat and recover
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The four-day truce deal has already seen the first group of Israelis held in Gaza be handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to Israeli media.

The group will be transported in ambulances through the Rafah crossing. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian families are awaiting the release of Palestinian women and children from an Israeli prison in the occupied West Bank, as part of the prisoner exchange deal with Israel.

A total of 39 Palestinians are set to be released from Ofer Prison near Ramallah.

The truce marks the first pause in more than six weeks of war in Gaza and offers relief both for the 2.3 million Palestinians in the territory who have endured relentless Israeli bombardment, and for families in Israel fearful for the fate of their loved ones taken captive on 7 October.

The deal, struck after lengthy and complex talks mediated by Qatar, the US, and Egypt, comes as Israel's offensive in Gaza has killed more than 14,000 people, more than a third of them children.

Israel claims it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters without presenting evidence and has confirmed the death of at least 70 of its soldiers.

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