Relatives of Thai workers killed by Hamas in Israel embrace during the religious ceremony after the bodies were returned to Thailand, in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, 01 November 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Thailand stops evacuation flights from Israel after 5,000 workers repatriated

Bangkok, Nov 1 (EFE).- Thailand confirmed Wednesday that it will not organize any more evacuation flights for Thai citizens wanting to leave Israel.

More than 5,000 have returned to the southeast Asian country since the escalation of the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

The Thai embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement Tuesday before that people interested in boarding the last evacuation flight organized by the government should report to the Hotel InterContinental Tel Aviv by 5pm.

A relative (2-L) takes part in a religious ceremony for Thai workers killed by Hamas in Israel, after the bodies were returned to Thailand, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, 01 November 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Government spokesman Chai Wacharonke said Wednesday that Thai citizens in Israel who want to leave the country can still book their own return flights and request a refund for their tickets from the Ministry of Labor.

In recent days, there have been 23 flights to evacuate more than 5,000 of the nearly 30,000 Thais who were in Israel at the time of the attack on Oct. 7 by Hamas’ armed wing in areas of southern Israel near the Gaza Strip.

During the assault, at least 32 Thais were killed, at least 19 were wounded and 22 were taken hostage.

Thai government representatives have been traveling to various countries in the Middle East to negotiate a possible release of the hostages.

A Buddhist monk prays for Thai workers killed by Hamas in Israel, during the religious ceremony after the bodies were returned to Thailand, at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Samut Prakan province, Thailand, 01 November 2023. EFE/EPA/NARONG SANGNAK

Also on Wednesday, the bodies of 11 Thai nationals arrived in the country, bringing the number of Thais who have been handed over to their families for funeral rites to 15.

Most of the Thais in Israel work in the agricultural sector and went into debt to secure a job for which they have to pay around 70,000 baht (about 1,950 dollars) to intermediary companies that send them to the Middle East.

Thai prime minister Srretha Thavisin on Tuesday announced an economic incentive of 50,000 baht to each Thai worker who decides to return as a result of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EFE

nbo/ks