Former Thai hostages – ‘We got medicine, the Israelis didn’t’

‘The Israelis had it worse,’ Manee Jirachat told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle from his hometown in Thailand.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Some of the Thai agricultural workers whom Hamas freed during the recent exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel said that the Israelis who were abducted with them on October 7 during the terror organization’s invasion of Gaza envelope communities “had it worse” than they did, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported Thursday.

Now back in his home village, Manee Jirachat described to the German broadcaster how he was shoved onto a pickup truck along with many others, including fellow countrymen and Israelis, to be sped into Gaza as hostages. When there was “no more room for hostages,” Jirachat testified, the Hamas terrorists simply shot in the head two extra Thais they had abducted who couldn’t fit in.

When they reached Gaza, five Thais, including Jirachat, and two Israelis, were brought to a tunnel. For several days they were left tied up on a plastic sheet, he said. Once Hamas realized the five were Thai nationals, they were untied so they could exercise their limbs for a short time each day.

But “The Israeli hostages had it worse,” he said, noting that instead of getting medicine like the Thais did, the Hamas guards would yell at the Israelis.

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Many of the hostages did not receive needed medications, as doctors found out upon examining those who were freed. One woman, Elma Avraham, 84, was in such a bad state that she was airlifted to a hospital as soon as she arrived back in Israel during the third iteration of the hostages-for-Palestinian-prisoners exchange late last month.

Her physician said that had she stayed one more day in Hamas hands, she would have died. Avraham has since improved greatly and her condition is not considered life-threatening anymore.

Another hostage now home, Anucha Angkaew, told DW that the Hamas prisoners had only been given one pita and a bottle of water each day for their food ration.

“I lost 16 kilograms (35 pounds),” the pale and thin 28-year-old said. Those were “dark days,” he added, speaking both figuratively and literally, as he was imprisoned in a very dimly-lit tunnel.

Almost all of the released Israeli hostages spoke of being put on short rations, even the children, with their weight loss immediately visible to their families upon seeing them again after some 50 days in captivity.

In all, Hamas freed 23 Thai hostages in a separate deal worked out between Bangkok and Tehran, Hamas’ sponsor and puppet-master. In addition to caring for them in hospital upon their release from Gaza, Jerusalem will also pay the abductees some compensation as a goodwill gesture for their horrific experience and loss of their jobs: NIS10,000 on a credit card that can also be used outside of Israel, and an allowance of approximately NIS6,900 per month for the next six months.

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A Thai official also said that Israel would reimburse them for any further medical expenses, including both psychological and physical treatments.

There are around 10 Thais still being held against their will in Gaza. Thirty-nine were murdered on the kibbutzim whose fields and crops they tended, among the 1,200 people the Hamas terrorists massacred, the vast majority of them civilians.

While many of the Thai laborers have left the country, with the encouragement of their government, Israel has tried to entice them to stay with higher wages, due to the extreme short-handedness on the vast majority of farms due to foreign help fleeing and much of their Israeli workforce on reserve duty for the last two months.

Saying the offer was “unacceptable,” considering the danger to their lives, Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced that his government would pay each returning worker some $400 to somewhat offset their loss of livelihood.