| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

Thai mother danced with joy after daughter released from Gaza

Natthawaree Mulkan’s mother danced with her 8-year-old granddaughter outside their northeastern Thai house after she learned that her daughter was one of the Thai hostages that Hamas had freed.

“I was overjoyed… Pointing to her patio, 56-year-old Bunyarin Srijan said, “I came out and danced.”

Two-mother Natthawaree was among ten Thai hostages released by Hamas after the first cease-fire of the seven-week conflict, which began with the militant Palestinian group’s attack on southern Israel on October 7.

She was the only Thai female abducted.

Her mother lost touch with her after the attack and then stopped following reports, dreading bad news.

“During that hopeless period I didn’t watch the news for half a month,” Bunyarin recounts alone in her living room.

“I was afraid of seeing my daughter lying dead.”

Some 30,000 Thai labourers, mainly from the country’s impoverished northeast, work in the Israeli agriculture sector, one of its largest groups of migrant workers.

Natthawaree is seen in a photograph from the Thai foreign ministry in a clinic, smiling with her hands clasped in a traditional ‘wai.’

Bunyarin said her daughter had planned to marry her boyfriend, Boonthom Phankhong, who was also abducted by Hamas and released on Friday.

“After she’s back, I’m going to take her to the temple to observe religious rites,” she said, wiping away tears.

  • Reuters