The Thai Foreign Ministry has set a target to evacuate at least 400 Thais from Israel each day through all possible channels, according to Kanchana Patarachoke, director-general of the Information Department and spokesperson for the ministry, today (Friday).
The number of Thais who have expressed a wish to fly back to Thailand has increased to 6,778, while 85 others have insisted on staying in Israel. The Thai death toll in the Hamas attack remains 21. 16 Thai nationals are believed to be being held captive by Hamas and 14 were injured, including some who have already arrived back in Thailand.
Kanchana said that about 99% of all foreigners, including Thai nationals, have been evacuated from the “red zones” by Israeli forces.
Among the Thai evacuees are 30 students from the Narathiwat Rajanagarindra University and 7 students from Sakhon Nakhon Rajabhat University, there on an exchange programme with the Arava International Centre for Agricultural Training of Israel, according to Minister of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovations Supamas Isarabhakdi.
Kanchana said the second group of 19 Thais are due back at Suvarnabhumi international airport on an El Al flight this evening and the third group of about 100 are scheduled to leave Tel Aviv tomorrow morning for Dubai, where they will change aircraft and continue their journey back home. They are expected to arrive at U-Tapao airport in Chon Buri on Sunday morning.
She went on to say that talks are underway with the Israeli airline for a special flight to bring about 250 Thais back on Monday as well.
Meanwhile, the Thai embassy in Tel Aviv has booked 100 hotel rooms to accommodate Thais waiting for flights to bring them home, she added.
She also dismissed, as a misunderstanding, a report that Thais were forced by their Israeli employers to work in danger areas, saying that, in fact, the workers were transferred to work in safer areas.