In the midst of the current Israeli situation, statements from the Thai Government about the safety of its citizens abroad are eagerly anticipated. Phumtham Wechayachai has been acting as the speaking authority on this matter, as Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is engaged in pressing international affairs. While waiting for clarity from the Israeli administration, he has directed the Foreign Affairs Ministry to liaise with nearby nations to ensure safe evacuation of Thai citizens.
The governmental update was provided by Phumtham at a conference held by the government’s critical response unit. This meeting was organized in response to the sudden military aggression seen in Israel on Saturday, when Hamas militants launched thousands of rockets and dispatched numerous fighters into Israeli territories bordering the Gaza Strip.
Post-attack, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a proclamation declaring Israel to be in a state of conflict with Hamas. In this scenario, we received gruesome updates about Thai workers in Israel. The Thai embassy confirmed the loss of two Thai workers, near-captures of 11, and injury to eight others; among these, two are grievously wounded.
While the situation remains highly tense, some comforting news has come in as well. Phumtham stated that there are eight or nine Thai students in Israel, all confirmed to be out of harm’s way. Measures are under discussion to safeguard the estimated 30,000 Thais in Israel, with approximately 5,000 residing in proximity to the Gaza Strip conflict zones.
He further announced that the Royal Thai Airforce has been given orders to ready six aircraft – one A340 and five C130s – for the evacuation of Thai employees as soon as Israeli airspace becomes secure. Concurrently, the Foreign Affairs Ministry will be compiling a comprehensive tally to account for every Thai national present in Israel.
Coordinating steps taken at the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv will be the focal point of engagement with the local Israeli authorities, and will serve as the source of future updates, as the Deputy Prime Minister informed.
This critical situation has also seen an initiative from the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, who have been entrusted with the duty of visiting the families of Thais in Israel, to comfort them and provide assistance in addressing mental well-being during this crisis.
Interestingly, most Thais residing in Israel belong to the North or Northeast regions of Thailand, predominantly working in different sectors. The concern and alarm surrounding their wellbeing is utmost in the entire Thai community.