A fireball erupts during Israeli bombardment of Gaza City on October 9, 2023. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
The number of Thai nationals who have died as a result of the Hamas attacks on Israel has increased to 18 and the number seeking to return to Thailand has increased to about 3,000, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Jakkaphong Sangmanee today (Tuesday).
He said that the death toll is, however, unofficial and is yet to be confirmed by Israeli officials, adding that, of an estimated 30,000 Thai nationals working in Israel, mostly in the agricultural sector, 5,000 are in living in high-risk areas and are to be evacuated.
He reiterated that the Thai government will explore all possible means to bring Thai people who want to leave Israel home safely, with the first evacuees to arrive at Suvarnabhumi airport on Thursday.
The evacuees will arrive in two groups, five are scheduled to arrive at 10.35am and another 10 at about 12.35pm.
The deputy foreign minister thanked the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv for its relentless efforts in exploring all possible means by which to get planes from Thailand to fly directly into Israel and to evacuate Thai citizens back home, instead of into other countries.
He said that, as the war appears to be intensifying, the Foreign Ministry has approached other countries in the region seekingpermission for planes from Thailand to land and evacuate Thai nationals, adding that this option is, however,inconvenient and will make journey times longer.
The Foreign Ministry will hold a meeting of the emergency response centre this afternoon, to discuss the updated situation in Israel and the evacuation plan or plans.
Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said today that he will seek a consultation with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin regarding the chartering of a commercial aircraft to evacuate Thais from Israel and to seek additional funding from the Central Fund for the operation, as he admitted that the Labour Ministry is running out of money.
About 500 Thais were evacuated from danger zones yesterdayinto two shelters by Israeli defence forces and they have been visited by Thai labour attachés.
Phiphat said he had heard a rumour that some Thais, who had been evacuated to safety, had been “sold” by their employers to new ones, adding that he had instructed Thai labour attachés to investigate.
Meanwhile, Minister of Social Development and Human Security Varawut Silpa-archa said that the ministry has social support centres, hotlines and mobile units to help relatives of Thais in Israel if they need counselling.