That’s why there are so many Thais among Hamas hostages – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

That’s why there are so many Thais among Hamas hostages – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

There has been a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas since Friday. Hamas has so far released 59 of about 240 hostages. More are expected to be released on Monday. The ceasefire was also extended for two days.

40 of those released were Israelis or Israelis with dual citizenship. The rest were foreigners. These are one Russian, one Filipino and 17 Thais.

Thai citizens constitute the largest group of foreigners among Hamas hostages.

The Thai authorities had previously estimated that there were 23 Thais among the hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7.

According to them, 32 Thais must have been killed by Hamas during the terrorist attack against Israel.

The first 10 Thais released by Hamas on Friday stand with a Thai officer.

Photo: Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs/AFP

Many take the credit

Erik Sakkari is a Middle East researcher at the University of Oslo. He points to two possible reasons why so many Thais were among the first foreign hostages to be released.

– This is partly because they “don’t pose a problem”, because they do not have dual citizenship, as many Israeli hostages do. This may also be partly due to the fact that Iran, one of Hamas’s most important supporters, has a good relationship with Thailand. He says this may have made it easier to negotiate a deal with Thailand, with Qatar’s help.

A group of Thai Muslims traveled to Iran in October. There they spoke directly with a Hamas representative, he writes Reuters.

To their credit, many Thais were among the first foreign hostages to be released.

– We were the only ones who spoke to Hamas about releasing the Thais since the outbreak of the war, says the group’s spokesman, Lierbong Syed, to Reuters.

The talks with Hamas did not take place under the official sponsorship of the Thai authorities. But they did not crack down on them either. So far, Thai authorities have not commented on Syed’s claim.

Meanwhile, Iran and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were also credited with the release of the Thais. This is what Reuters wrote.

Thai migrant workers harvest fennel near Kibbutz Saad in southern Israel.  The photo is from 2014.

Thai migrant workers harvest fennel near Kibbutz Saad in southern Israel. The photo is from 2014.

Photography: Amir Cohen – Reuters

He takes jobs that Israelis don’t want

This is according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs There were about 30,000 Thais in Israel before the outbreak of war.

These are migrant workers who fill jobs that Israelis would rather not do themselves. They work for much higher wages than in their home country. It is no different from labor migration in Norway.

– Thais who go to Israel are primarily very poor and have few resources. There was great concern about their working conditions in Israel. Thais are being grossly exploited by some actors, Sakari says.

He says that labor migration from Thailand to Israel began in the 1980s. It was officially agreed upon between Israel and Thailand in 2011.

– The presence of so many Thais among Hamas hostages is a combination of the region’s demographics and bad luck for Thais, Sakari says.

Most of them work in agriculture, many of them on farms and kibbutzim near the border with Gaza. In total, there are about 100,000 migrant workers in Israel. Thais make up the largest group.

Through an agreement with Israel, Thai workers receive a minimum wage of 5,300 Israeli shekels per month. This is equivalent to about 15,000 Norwegian kroner. This is up to seven times higher than what Thais can earn in their home country Al Jazeera.

Israeli volunteers help farmers harvest avocados on a farm near Kibbutz Beri.  The photo was taken on November 15.

Israeli volunteers help farmers harvest avocados on a farm near Kibbutz Beri. The photo was taken on November 15.

Photography: Alexander Ermoshenko/Reuters

Huge need for labour

Many Thais chose to remain in Israel after the outbreak of war. However, nearly 9,000 of them have left the country, at the request of Thailand’s Prime Minister, Srita Thavisin.

A total of about 10,000 migrant agricultural workers are said to have left the country since the war began, according to Israeli authorities. He writes CNN.

The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture also says that between 30,000 and 40,000 agricultural workers have disappeared from the country’s farms. Half of these will be Palestinian workers who were prevented from entering the country after the outbreak of war.

This has created a huge need for labor in agriculture. Many Israelis have volunteered.

However, Israel needs to hire new foreign workers. They are now turning to other countries that can provide cheap labor, such as Sri Lanka and India.


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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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