A dance of lights shimmered against the inked sky as a military aircraft made its descent to Don Meang, in the heart of Bangkok, marking the return of Thai workers from Israel this Friday. The journey home from Israel was not just the end of a long chapter of work and new experiences. It also marked a hiatus prompted by the unsettling Israel-Hamas conflict. But a beacon of hope has been lit. Israel has reiterated a clear voice of warm welcome to these diligent Thai workers, as the tension between Israel and Hamas slowly attenuates – so disclosed the Labour Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Pairote Chotikasathien.
Through the veil of diplomatic wires, Pairote announced that Kittana Srisuriya, a minister counselor at the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv, had a rendezvous with Eyal Sisu, the Director-General of the Population and Immigration Authority (Piba), and Inbal Mashash, the chief of the Foreign Workers Administration. The topic on their table revolved around the provision of much-needed assistance to two cohorts of Thai workers trapped in the quagmire of the war.
The first group embodies Thai workers who had to hastily pack their bags and return to Thailand as the war drums echoed around them. These workers have completed their contracts that spanned over five years and three months. But there’s also a subset of workers who returned to the comfort of their homeland three to four years ago. Piba has decided to stretch out an olive branch to these workers, permitting them to return under new conditions which will soon be negotiated with the Thai Labor Ministry, shared Pairote.
A different predicament enwraps the second group. These are workers continuing to stay in Israel, sans visas, with contracts yet to be fully executed. Piba has put forward an act of goodwill and decided to extend their visas till November of the forthcoming year. This group further encapsulates many Thai workers due to draw the curtain on their contracts no later than April next year. An extension of a year has been granted to their visas, revealed Pairote.
The role of foreign, especially Thai workers, in steering Israel’s economy, particularly in the agriculture sector, is not lost on Israel. Their return has become a point of vital concern for the nation. “Our Labour Ministry is in constant liaison with Israeli authorities, to create a smooth pathway for the return of Thai workers, as the circumstances there get better,” affirmed Pairote.
On a somber note, the first flight bearing the mortal remains of eight Thai workers, victims of the brutal Hamas attack on Oct 7, landed on Thailand’s soil yesterday. The commercial flight, El Al LY083 from Israel, touched down at Suvarnabhumi airport at 9.33 am. The bodies were then transported to their respective home provinces: Udon Thani, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Si Sa Ket, and Sukhothai.
Pairote affirmed that the Labour Ministry has pledged an initial amount of 40,000 baht to each grieving family to cover funeral costs, providing them solace in this time of sorrow.