11 July 2024

The first group of 94 Thai nationals returned to war-torn Israel today, with some admitting that they are worried about their safety, but have to do the job to feed their families back home.

Wittawat Suntornpinit, from Khon Kaen province, said that he feels excited but concerned about his family, adding “I decided to go to earn money for them.”

Thailand had suspended the provision of labour to Israel since the October 7 Hamas attack last year, in which at least 41 Thai nationals were killed and following which about 7,000 were evacuated.

The Labour Ministry plans to send a total of 10,000 Thai nationals to work in Israel’s agricultural sector, to meet the quota granted by Israeli authorities.

Suvarnabhumi international airport in Bangkok was crowded today with families and relatives of the Thais leaving for Israel.

They were seen talking quietly and hugging their loved ones as, under their contracts, they will have to work in Israel for 63 months before being able to return to Thailand.

The workers have been trained to prepare for emergencies and they will receive 50,000-55,000 baht per month, excluding overtime.

Not only are they worried about the fighting in Israel and Gaza, but also the weather, which is very different to that in Thailand.

Wittawat Sae Lee, from Chiang Rai, told reporters that he accepted the job in Israel because he wants to fight for a better life for his wife and children, adding “I have to admit that my wife and I fear for my safety there, but this is a good opportunity for me to earn income for the family.”

His wife said she will do her best to be both mother and father to their children and take the best care of them while waiting for her husband to come home.