update deskIsrael at War

Freed Thai hostages wed, plan to return to Israel

Nutthawaree Munkan and Boonthom Pankhong fell in love while working on a moshav in southern Israel.

Former captives in Gaza Boonthom Pankhong (left) and Nutthawaree Munkan marry in Thailand, March 2024. Source: Social media.
Former captives in Gaza Boonthom Pankhong (left) and Nutthawaree Munkan marry in Thailand, March 2024. Source: Social media.

Two Thai citizens who were abducted to Gaza during the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion and were later freed have married and are planning to return to Israel for work.

Nutthawaree Munkan and Boonthom Pankhong fell in love while working as agricultural laborers on a moshav in southern Israel. They were separated when Hamas terrorists stormed into Israeli border communities and killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took more than 250 others hostage; 134 remain in Gaza.

They were freed and reunited in November after 50 days of captivity during a weeklong truce between Israel and Hamas that saw more than 100 hostages, including 23 Thai workers, released, and then returned home to Thailand.

The couple, who had planned to get married before their capture, intends to return to Israel for financial reasons, but “look for a safer place” rather than return to somewhere close to the Gaza Strip, Ynet reported.

“We decided together that we would do this in order to have the means to send our children to good schools and save money for when they grow up. I watched the news from Israel and saw missiles fell in the north, but it didn’t change our decision,” Munkan said.

Six months after being taken hostage, the ordeal is still fresh in her mind.

“It was like dying,” she said. “It was a miracle that I left Gaza. The current situation is cruel, and simply terrible.

“For both of us, captivity was like the end of our lives, and we have been free for a long time. I find it hard to understand how the remaining hostages will survive. I can’t stop thinking about them,” she said.

Nearly 30,000 Thais worked in Israel before the war, making up the largest group of foreign agricultural laborers in the country.

Thailand lost the third-most citizens to Hamas’s murderous assault on Oct. 7, after Israel and the U.S.

Twenty-nine Thai workers were killed in the attack, while an additional 23 were taken to Gaza, the single largest group of non-Israelis among the abductees, who came from more than three dozen countries.

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