Among the approximately 240 hostages Hamas took on Oct. 7, at least 23 are Thais, according to Thai authorities. They shall be the largest group of foreign nationals held hostage. On the first day of the ceasefire on 24 November, twelve of them were released, and then seven more in the following days.

Since Oct. 7, many have also been reported missing. 32 have been killed.

Works in agriculture and home care

The fact that many Thai citizens are among the hostages is due to the fact that among the 100,000 guest workers in Israel, they make up 30,000 of them. They work mainly in agriculture and home care, and many of them work in the kibbutzim near Gaza where Hamas took hostages.

"When they entered these communities, there were many Thais living and working there, so we see that several of them have been killed in attacks and taken hostage to Gaza," says Isabell Schierenbeck, professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg.

Thousands are leaving the country

Over 7,000 Thais have left the country since the start of the war, which is encouraged by Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, the news agency AP reports.

At the same time, many have chosen to stay to continue working, as they have established themselves in the country and the salary is higher than what they can get in other countries.

"These are people who are in great need of supporting themselves and their families back home in Thailand, so that's probably what predominates," says Isabell Schierenbeck.

Israel Needs the Workforce

As many foreign workers have left the country, Israel is now offering extended work visas and a monthly bonus equivalent to about $5,600 if they continue to work in the Gaza Strip area until the end of the year. Israel's economy is extremely strained as a result of the war, and in the area in question it is harvest time, says Isabell Schierenbeck.

"The Thai workforce's profession is to work in agriculture and they have a completely different knowledge and opportunity to do the work. So it's extremely important to get them to stay.