Hostages are coming home

Free at last: Two newly-freed Thai hostages hugging Parnpree (third from left) after arriving at the Shamir Medical Center in Israel. — AP

SEVENTEEN Thai hostages kidnapped and held for weeks in the Gaza Strip by Hamas are set to arrive back home, officials said.

Roughly 13 Thais remain among the hostages taken by Hamas during last month’s cross-border raid into Israel, according to Thailand’s foreign ministry.

The ministry confirmed yesterday that 17 freed Thais would return home today, touching down in the capital Bangkok shortly after midday.

The former hostages will be accompanied by Thai foreign minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara, who flew to Israel to meet with them earlier this week.

Ten of the group were released last Friday, as a truce began following weeks of negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States.

Seven more were set free by Hamas in the days that followed.

The group has been recuperating at a hospital in Israel since as authorities prepare to fly them home, Thai officials said.

Two more Thai hostages were released late Tuesday, but a foreign ministry official said they would remain in hospital in Israel for now, returning later.

The returning Thais were among those captured during the Oct 7 raid by Hamas into Israel that saw 1,200 people killed, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel retaliated with a massive campaign of air, artillery and naval strikes alongside a ground offensive into Gaza.

The war has killed nearly 15,000 people in Gaza, thousands of them children, said the territory’s Hamas-run government.

About 30,000 Thais were working in Israel, mostly in the agriculture sector, at the time of the attacks, according to the Thai labour ministry.

Thirty-nine Thai citizens have been killed and 19 wounded in the war at current tallies. — AFP

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