Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement offers hope for Thai hostages

Picture courtesy of Chicago Sun-Times, AP

The IsraeliGaza war took an unexpected turn as Israel and Hamas agreed to swap hostages for prisoners. This development has brought a glimmer of hope for the Thai workers who were held hostage during the conflict. As per the information received by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the ceasefire agreement between the two battling factions is likely to facilitate the release of the Thai hostages.

The 61 year old prime minister expressed his optimism about the situation.

“We are confident there will be good news.”

He also stated that the Thai government is in discussions with Qatar to assist in the evacuation of Thais through the country. However, he urged Thai workers still in Israel not to return to conflict zones during the ceasefire.

The ceasefire comes after six weeks of relentless war. The Israeli government and Hamas declared yesterday, November 22 that they would enforce a brief ceasefire to enable the release of 50 captives taken by Hamas during their attack on Israel last month. These hostages were taken from various locations including homes along Israel’s border, military bases, and an outdoor music festival.

The hostages include a diverse group of individuals ranging from civilians, soldiers, and people with disabilities to children, grandparents, and a nine month old baby. Among the hostages, there are at least 20 Thai farmworkers and one Palestinian resident of Israel, reported Bangkok Post

The Israeli government, through an official WhatsApp message, announced the ceasefire decision which would result in a four-day halt to the fighting. If successful, this would be the longest pause in hostilities since the onset of the conflict following Hamas’ attacks on October 7.

In a statement by Hamas on Telegram, the group confirmed the deal and added that the release of 50 Israelis would be in exchange for the freedom of 150 Palestinian women and detainees under the age of 19 from Israeli prisons.

The release of the hostages is not expected until today at the earliest as it allows time for Israeli judges to review potential legal challenges to the agreement. The lead mediator of the deal, Qatar, has yet to comment.

According to the terms of the deal, Israel has agreed to let in more aid supplies to Gaza, continue to allow civilians to leave northern Gaza, and halt its flights over Gaza except for a six-hour window every day. Israel has also agreed that its troops will stay in their current positions, and civilians currently in southern Gaza will not be allowed to return to the north.

However, in its statement, Hamas warned that “our hands will remain on the trigger, and our triumphant brigades will remain on the lookout to defend our people and to defeat the occupation and aggression.”

US President Joe Biden also expressed optimism on Tuesday at the White House.

“We’re now very close, very close. We could bring some of these hostages home very soon.”

The US has been engaged in indirect talks with Israel, Hamas, and Qatar to secure an agreement.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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