AMID WIDESPREAD speculation on social media that Thais are serving as mercenary soldiers in Israel’s the war against Hamas, the Foreign Ministry today (Nov. 8) clarified that no Thai worker has enlisted to do so with only half Thai and Israeli dual nationals serving as reserve soldiers, Naewna newspaper said.
The Thai Ambassador to Israel informed the ministry that a number of Thai women, approximately 400-500, are married to Israeli men and have children who hold both Thai and Israeli nationalities.
According to Israeli law military service is compulsory for all Israeli nationals with both men and women being conscripted when they turn 18. Men serve 32 months and women 24 months and once the conscription period is over they are all inducted into the reserve army that is called to perform military duties as needed.
The Thai ministry said that since Oct. 7 Hamas surprise attack out of Gaza the Israeli army has called up over 350,000 reservists, or approximately 4 percent of the population, for military duty with this being Israel’s largest call-up to date.
As this is the case there would be half Thai and Israel nationals who are serving as soldiers according to Israeli law, the ministry said.
“It is not Thai workers who have disguised themselves as mercenaries to fight for Israel as has been claimed. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore asks for cooperation in not spreading fake news or news that may cause misunderstanding to the public both in Thailand and abroad,” the ministry added.
Israel hunts Hamas in tunnels after encircling Gaza City
Israel’s ground forces in the Gaza Strip aimed today (Nov, 8) to locate and disable Hamas militants’ vast tunnel network beneath the enclave, the next phase in an Israeli offensive that has killed thousands of Palestinians, according to a Reuters report published by Yahoo!News
Since Hamas gunmen killed 1,400 people and took some 240 hostages in an Oct. 7 cross-border raid, Israel has pounded Gaza from the air and used ground troops to divide the coastal enclave in two.
Gaza City, Hamas’ main stronghold in the territory, is encircled. Israel says its troops have advanced to the heart of the densely-populated city while Hamas says its fighters have inflicted heavy losses on the invading forces.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel had “one target – Hamas terrorists in Gaza, their infrastructure, their commanders, bunkers, communications rooms”.
Chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that Israel’s combat engineering corps were using explosive devices to destroy a tunnel network built by Hamas that stretches for hundreds of kilometres (miles) beneath Gaza.
Israeli tanks have faced heavy resistance from Hamas fighters using the tunnel network to launch ambushes, sources with Hamas and the separate Islamic Jihad militant group said.
It was not possible to verify the battlefield claims of either side.
Israel seeks ‘indefinite period: of control
Israelis have voiced fear that military operations could further endanger hostages, who are believed to be held in the tunnels. Israel says it won’t agree to a ceasefire until the hostages are released. Hamas says it won’t stop fighting while Gaza is under attack.
“I challenge (Israel) if it has been able, to this moment, to record any military achievement on the ground other than killing civilians,” senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad told Al Jazeera television.
“Gaza is unbreakable and will remain a thorn in the throat of the Americans and the Zionists,” Hamad said.
Since Oct. 7, the Israeli bombardment has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, around 40% of them children, according to counts by health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Washington has backed Israel’s position that a ceasefire would help Hamas militarily. But US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undertake a pause in fighting.
Israel has so far been vague about its long-term plans if it achieves its stated goal of vanquishing Hamas. In some of the first direct comments on the subject, Netanyahu said Israel would seek to have security responsibility for Gaza “for an indefinite period” after the war.
But officials said Israel is not interested in governing the enclave. Gallant, the Israeli defence minister, said that after the war was finished, neither Israel nor Hamas would rule Gaza.
Top: Israeli soldiers take part in ground operations in this photo released Nov. 7, 2023. Photo: Handout/Israeli Defence Forces via Reuters and published by CNA
Insert: An Israeli tank is seen at a location given as Gaza in this handout photo released Nov. 7, 2023. Photo: Handout/Israel Defence Forces via Reuters and published by CNA
Front Page: Palestinians carry their belongings as they flee their houses in Gaza City on Nov. 7, 2023. Photo: Reuters/Mohammed Al-Masri and published by CNA