The Thai government is considering other options for the evacuation of Thais from Israel, in addition to flying them back in an Airbus-340 and five C-130 military transport planes of the Royal Thai Air Force, which have not been allowed to land in Israel.
An informed government source said that the Airbus-340 can carry only about 140 passengers and the flying time from Israel to Bangkok is about 10 hours. The problem is, however,where the plane will land in Israel.
According to the Thai Ministry of Defence, since Israel is selective in allowing military planes to land in the country, the other options are Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Egypt and Jordan, in the case that military planes are used for the evacuation as originally planned. In which case, Thais who want to return home would have to be evacuated by other means of transport to one of these countries, and then board the planes back home, or by chartering a commercial plane which is still permitted to land in Tel Aviv, said the source.
Srawut Aree, director of the Muslim Studies Centre at Chulalongkorn University said that the Jordan option is not easy, even though it is closest to Gaza where most of the Thais are working.
The workers would have to travel by land to Tel Aviv first, which is about 100km, and then continue their journey overland to Jordan’s capital of Amman, another 160km. Altogether it would take about three hours, according to the Google maps estimation, without considering the other factors, said Saravudh.
The Cyprus, Saudi Arabia and Egypt options are even more challenging than the Jordan option, he said.
To reach Cyprus, he said the workers would have to fly there from Tel Aviv or go by sea, across the Mediterranean, adding that Thailand has no embassy in Cyprus, just an honorary consul’s office.
To get to Saudi Arabia by land, they would would have to pass through southern Israel, where the fighting is still raging, he said, adding that going to Egypt, by land, would also mean passing through southern Israel and the journey would be longer.