Five flights have been prepared by the Air Force, which in conjunction with commercial flights, are projected to return approximately 6,000 Thai people from Israel within the month of October. As conveyed by Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang and Air Force’s highest-ranking official, ACM Seksan Kantha, the repatriation involves far from an abandonment of Thais stranded in Israel. Challenges including the precariousness of entering Israeli airspace amidst ongoing conflicts have made the operation difficult.
Notably, 127 male and two female returnees along with a five-year-old child, have undergone medical screening, completed immigration formalities, and processed Labour Ministry procedures before being transported to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. Here, their eagerly awaiting relatives have been given the opportunity to finally reunite with them. The condition of the repatriates varied, with one of them having a broken arm and four others exhibiting flu symptoms.
The government also has a contingency plan for employing C130 aircraft or other means of transport to expedite the repatriation of Thais currently in Israel. So far, the evacuation has seen 254 Thai workers, including 15 from the first group, 19 from the second group and 90 from the third group, safely returned to Thailand.
Potential strategies such as establishing safe zones are in talks with Israel, along with efforts to locate Thai nationals potentially stuck in dangerous regions. The assertion from Sutin insisted that “the evacuation of Thais in Israel is not slow”.
Phairoj Chotikasatien, the Labour Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, clarified that assisting Thai workers to claim compensation under the fund for overseas workers has seen officials being deployed. The compensation fund will award each worker 15,000 baht for work disruption caused by the ongoing war. Moreover, those injured would receive 30,000 baht, with a further 40,000 baht for families of those who have been killed. In addition to this, each bereaved family would also receive 40,000 baht intended to cover funeral costs.
Meanwhile, Israel is also planning to provide compensation, the extent of which is determined by the severity of each person’s injuries and potential disability deduced post-medical examination. Workers with injuries spanning 10 to 19% of their body, for instance, would receive about 1.4 million baht. Those more extensively injured would get their monthly wages for life. Relatives of the deceased workers could anticipate 34,560 baht per month until they remarry, while their children would receive 5,760 to 11,520 baht monthly until they reach 18 years of age.
Santi Nantasuwan, Department of Employment’s Deputy Director-General, informed workers of the possibility of claiming compensation under the fund for overseas workers by applying at any provincial employment office across the nation. The submission requires copies of the fund membership card, work permit, ID card, passport, and bank savings book. A toll-free call to the department’s 1694 hotline may conveniently provide workers with more information.
Chokchai Yongpho, a representative of Thai workers in Israel and a 33-year-old Kalasin local, expressed difficulties in reaching the airport by way of his residence situated less than 10 kilometres away from the Gaza Strip. Despite the contractual agreement to work at a tomato plantation in Israel remunerating more than 60,000 baht per month to meet his financial obligations, Yongpho insisted he would not return to Israel. Adding, amidst the Hamas-led attacks, that he was relieved to finally find safety back home and that his colleagues had to take refuge in camps meant for workers.