Early today, a group of Thai expatriates, 88 men and two women, made a much-anticipated arrival back in their homeland from Israel. This signified the third such group successfully repatriated in an operation masterfully executed by the Thai government. The heartwarming story of their journey back home stretched across continents, beginning with their departure from Israel.
The group set off on their homeward journey yesterday, boarding Fly Dubai Flight FZ1550 at 11 am, local time in Israel. Their journey took them to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, serving as a transition point in their travel. After a brief interlude, they continued their flight, hopping onto a connecting flight, FZ1837, at 7 pm. The final leg of their journey culminated in their arrival at U-tapao International Airport nestled in the Ban Chang district of Rayong province. They touched Thai soil again at precisely 5:45 am.
Upon arrival, they found a warm reception composed of several high-ranking officials. The welcoming committee included the governor of Rayong, the airport director of U-tapao, and the deputy director-general of the Department of Employment. After providing them with necessary sustenance—food and water—the returning workers embarked on a bus journey organized by three chartered buses. The end destination was the SC Park Hotel situated in Wang Thonglang district, Bangkok, where family members were eagerly anticipating their return, as the Bangkok Post reported.
Amongst the returnees, Nathapong Nuanchan, a 35-year-old worker, stood out, wheeled out from the airport due to an injury to his right leg. Hailing originally from Udon Thani province, Nathapong had spent much of his time in Israel working in a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip alongside nearly ten other Thai workers. On the fateful morning of September 7, an abrupt burst of gunfire and explosions took them by surprise, causing them to take cover. During the ensuing chaos, Nathapong sustained a shrapnel injury to his right leg. The group was promptly evacuated by Israeli troops who arrived on the scene shortly after the unsettling incident.
Nathapong, who had made Israel his workplace for roughly four years and still had a year left on his work contract, has firmly stated that he holds no plans to return to Israel. His intention now is to explore employment options closer to home, in Udon Thani province. Keep track of the latest compelling stories from The Thaiger on our new Facebook page, available HERE.