01/15/2024, 19.24
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Uncertain fate for 'forgotten' Thai and Nepali hostages in Gaza

A video showing three hostages was released yesterday, fuelling expectations about their fate. Thailand and Nepal are seeking to get information about their own citizens held in Gaza. The terminally ill mother of an Israeli-Chinese woman seen on a video at the time of the abductions attended a rally in Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – While Hamas ended a short video aired yesterday showing three Israeli hostages it is holding in Gaza with an annotation saying that it would provide information about their fate the next day (today), across Asia, several countries, like Thailand and Nepal, are wondering about the fate of their own citizens held hostage by the Palestinian group.

These hostages represent the "forgotten face" of a tragedy triggered by the Hamas attack on 7 October that killed 1,200 people on the Israeli side and more than 24,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the war unleashed by the Jewish state in Gaza.

Recently, the Kuala Lumpur-based Palestinian ambassador to Thailand Walid Abu Ali offered his full support in the efforts to release Asian nationals held by the extremist movement in Gaza.

At least eight Thais are known to be held, according to the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv, which promoted a rally yesterday for their release.

During a meeting, Ambassador Walid and Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-nukara discussed the issue, as well as how to boost bilateral relations, plus the general situation in the Middle East.

“Both sides expressed their satisfaction with the Thai-Palestinian relationship,” the ministry said, expressing “their readiness to promote Thai-Palestinian relations in potential areas of mutual interest, particularly in tourism and trade promotion”.

Parnpree underlined Thailand's commitment to strengthening cooperation to enhance Palestine's security and sustainability, stressing that Thailand has "consistently" provided a “financial contribution" to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA) since 1978 and recently pledged US$ 80,000 "in response to UNRWA's flash appeal following the humanitarian situation in Gaza."

Thailand officially recognised the State of Palestine on 17 January 2012 and established diplomatic relations on 1 August of the same year.

Thailand is not alone in having hostages in Gaza. Nepal is also worried about the fate of Nepali student Bipin Joshi, who is still held in the Gaza Strip.

In late November, Nepal’s diplomatic mission in Tel Aviv announced a possible release in the following weeks, but so far, no significant progress has occurred between the parties.

In Hamas’s terror attack on 7 October, 10 Nepali students who had come to Israel as part of the "Learn and Earn" programme were killed and four were injured. Joshi is one of 17 Nepali students living in Kibbutz Alumim near the Gaza Strip, scene of the attack.

Noa Argamani, a young Israeli woman of Chinese origin, is among the foreign hostages or hostages with dual nationality; like the others, she had attended the "Supernova" festival, becoming famous in a video that showed her capture with her hand outstretched and terror on her face.

Her mother, Liora Argamani, who lives in China, was among those who attended a rally in Tel Aviv yesterday to mark 100 days of the hostages' imprisonment. On this occasion, she renewed her appeal to US President Joe Biden to help her see her daughter before she dies of terminal cancer.

“I am terminally ill with Stage 4 brain cancer. All that’s running through my mind before I part ways with my family forever is the chance to hug my daughter, my only child, one last time,” Liora Argamani wrote in a letter to Biden.

“She deserves to be back where she belongs, pursuing her dreams, surrounded by love and care. She deserves to see her mother alive one last time.”

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