The terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel has resulted in the deaths of 20 Thai workers, with 13 injured and 16 taken as hostages. These workers were employed on farms near the Gaza border.
- Thailand has been the most affected foreign country by Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, with 20 Thai casualties, 13 injured, and 16 hostages.
- The Thai community in Israel, primarily working in agriculture, has been offered repatriation following the attack, with over 5,000 workers requesting to return to Thailand.
- Thailand has become a significant source of foreign labor for Israeli farms, with approximately 30,000 Thai workers employed in the country, earning higher wages than in their home country but facing challenges such as unpaid work and difficult conditions.
The Thai community in Israel, primarily in the agricultural sector, is estimated to be around 25,000 to 30,000 people. The Thai embassy in Israel is offering repatriation for those workers who wish to leave the country, and total of 5,174 Thai workers in Israel have registered for voluntary repatriation, according to Kanchana Patarachoke, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Some workers have also expressed a desire to be relocated to safer areas. Thailand has become a major source of foreign labor for Israeli agricultural farms since a bilateral agreement was signed in 2012.
Thousands of Thais near Gaza
Since the signing of a bilateral worker placement agreement between Bangkok and Jerusalem in 2012, Thailand has become one of the main suppliers of foreign labor for Israeli farms. Nearly 30,000 Thai workers are counted throughout the country. Bangkok estimates that around 5,000 were employed on kibbutzim near Gaza.
These workers, often from the poorest rural provinces of Thailand, can earn a monthly minimum wage of 5,300 shekels ($1,300) in Israel, double what they would earn in Bangkok. However, there have been reports of these workers not always receiving the promised minimum wage and working in difficult conditions. The Thai embassy has set up a form for repatriating workers who want to leave Israel after the Hamas attack, with 5,205 workers having requested to return to Thailand.
A disconcerted executive
Disconcerted by the suddenness of the crisis, the new Thai Prime Minister Srethha Thavisin promised to do everything to obtain the release of the hostages but his government does not have strong diplomatic relays in the Middle East, capable of carrying out delicate negotiations with Hamas. “Thailand is a friendly country and maintains good relations with all parties. We hope that the violence will stop and that the situation will quickly return to normal,” said Srettha Thavisin.
A total of 16 Thai workers are now known to have been taken hostage by Hamas fighters since the conflict began, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.