(FILE) Thai migrant workers evacuated from Israel arrive in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 October 2023. EFE/EPA/RUNGROJ YONGRIT

Thailand urges citizens in Israel to ‘return as soon as possible’

Bangkok, Oct 28 (EFE).- The government of Thailand on Saturday called on thousands of Thais living in Israel to “return as soon as possible” due to the worsening security situation in the Middle East.

Thai officials also fear a further escalation of violence after the Israeli military began ground operations in the Gaza Strip this week.

“The government is extremely concerned about the Thai people in Israel and requests that Thais in Israel return as soon as possible,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In its statement, the ministry noted that Israeli army ground operations in the Gaza Strip may result in “a more serious and dangerous combat situation for the lives and safety of the Thai people in Israel”.

Thais are one of the largest groups of migrant workers in Israel and also one of the nationalities with the highest number of fatalities in the attack by Hamas’ armed wing against Israel near the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7.

The Thai Foreign Ministry on Friday said 33 Thais had been killed, 18 wounded and 18 were being held hostage by Hamas.

“Return to your homes,” said Thai Prime Minister Sretta Thavisin on X (formerly Twitter).

Bangkok has urged Thais to return before commercial flights out of Israel are potentially affected.

Some 30,000 Thai nationals were in Israel, including 5,000 employed in the agricultural sector near the Gaza Strip, at the time of the assault perpetrated by Hamas.

There have so far been 23 flights to repatriate 4,771 Thais, with more flights expected in the coming days, according to official figures.

Thailand began sending thousands of seasonal workers to Israel following an agreement in 2012 to fill jobs in the Israeli agricultural sector. EFE