The protracted crisis in Israel has inflicted a deadly toll on Thai labourers, the latest report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has indicated – with two additional deaths registered. This takes the overall Thai fatalities to 20 in the beleaguered region. Trapped within the disquieting web of rocket strikes from Hamas and aerial assaults around the vicinity of the Gaza Strip, these labourers tragically lost their lives. Unofficial accounts from local Thais and employers working in the area provided the information about these deaths, reported Kanchana Patarachoke, spokesperson of the Ministry and the director-general of the Information Department. These casualties are yet to receive official validation from the Israeli authorities.
Sadly, the chaos did not cease with these heartbreaking deaths. Four more Thai nationals were injured and three others have gone missing recently, propelling the figure of the injured to 13 and missing persons to 14 amongst Thai nationals. Reacting to the spiralling situation, a sizable 5,174 Thai employees have chosen voluntary repatriation. However, a few, precisely 64, have opted to remain in Israel for the time being. The total Thai community in Israel is an estimated 30,000.
On a more hopeful note, the initial batch of 15 Thai nationals extricating themselves from the turmoil will land in Thailand on an El Al airline later today around 10.35 am. Moreover, the next Wednesday’s commercial flights have earmarked 80 seats for Thais choosing to leave. The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) anticipates an increase in evacuees and has thus made their aircraft ready for transport. As soon as necessary permissions are granted to traverse other countries’ airspace, the RTAF plans to begin its relief missions on the coming Sunday and October 24.
To organize additional retreat flights, the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv is liaising with assorted airlines. Some Thais have reached out to Thai embassies in Jordan and Egypt for help in crossing borders from Israel to these countries. Kanchana assures that the embassies are primed to offer their support but entreats the fleeing nationals to remain alert throughout their journey.
Simultaneously, the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv is perpetually in touch with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other authorities to facilitate the swift transition of Thai nationals from perilous zones to safer areas. Provisions are being made for temporary accommodations or alternative work in agricultural plantations for the migrated civilians, including Thai nationals.
Pannabha Chandraramya, the Thai ambassador to Israel, along with the embassy’s labour attache, visited the Thai evacuees in Tel Aviv to establish moral support. When the first group of 15 Thais arrive, they will be received by immigration officials to ease their entry process, as per Naruchai Ninnat, deputy director-general of the Consular Affairs Department. They will then be transported to the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute for health checks.
Each returning Thai is eligible for 15,000 baht from a fund set up by the Labour Ministry to help overseas Thai workers, suggested Samas Pattamasukhon, the inspector-general at the Labour Ministry. A worker injured during the conflict can apply for an additional 15,000 baht assistance with a medical document, as reported by the Bangkok Post. The circumstances might be grim, but assistance is being mobilized at various levels for the Thai citizens in Isreal.