Clutching Thai flags tightly to their chests, a group of Thais disembarked from an air force flight at the Don Mueang airport early Monday morning. They were part of the fourth wave of Thai repatriates returning home from Israel since the uproar of the Israel-Hamas conflict began on October 7. This latest group comprised of 130 individuals, all of whom arrived safely on home soil through a flight relayed by the Royal Thai Air Force.
The A340-500 air force plane assigned to this repatriation mission took off from Ben Gurion airport, Israel, at 7.27pm Thailand time Sunday evening, and touched down at the Don Mueang airport at 6.50am on Monday. The latest group of returnees consisted of 127 men, two women, and a young five-year-old girl. Welcoming them at the Wing 6 terminal upon their arrival were none other than Defence Minister Sutin Klungsang and Air Force Chief-of-Staff ACM Seksan Kantha.
Prior to their departure from Israel, a meticulous medical examination was carried out by the air force’s medical team, in conjunction with a thorough security check. Among the returnees, one worker had previously suffered a fall and was still nursing an injury. Another had a broken arm that had undergone surgical attention, while five others displayed flu-like symptoms, though subsequent ATK tests thankfully returned a negative result for COVID-19.
Once they’d completed the immigration procedure, they were safely transported from Don Mueang airport to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute. At the institute, they were warmly received by eagerly waiting relatives. Sutin Klungsang announced that the air force plane would soon return to Israel to bring another group of Thais back to their home country on Wednesday, following the same flight path.
He went on to say that the workers who arrived on Monday would be compensated with 15,000 baht each as an initial payment from the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry of Social Development and Human Security would then take responsibility for their transportation back to their respective provinces.
Despite the challenges they have faced, the returning Thais exuded expressions of unmistakable joy to be back in their home country. They expressed a heartfelt thank you to the staff of the Thai embassy for their care and support throughout this trying process. Some voiced apprehensions over returning to work in Israel, given the persistent conflict. Others, however, saw little choice but to return due to outstanding debts that still needed to be paid.