First Thai workers head to Israel since attacks
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First Thai workers head to Israel since attacks

Labour minister hopes to see as many as 10,000 take jobs in Israel by year-end

Thai workers wave goodbye at Suvarnabhumi airport as they leave for Israel on Tuesday (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)
Thai workers wave goodbye at Suvarnabhumi airport as they leave for Israel on Tuesday (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The first Thai labourers to go to Israel since the Hamas attack last October departed from Suvarnabhumi Airport on Tuesday, according to the Ministry of Labour, which aims to export as many as 10,000 workers to the country this year.

Labour Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said 100 workers left on Tuesday, with another 540 to follow from Wednesday until July 3.

All were required to undergo training courses to ensure they are well-prepared and understand their employment contracts, working conditions, local customs and cultures, and legal protection rights, the minister said.

They will also be informed about how to access assistance in case of an emergency or when encountering problems, and how to promptly respond to wartime emergency procedures.

Before the Hamas attack on Oct 7 last year, about 30,000 Thai nationals were working in Israel, the majority of them in agriculture and construction. Almost 9,000 were repatriated in the early days and weeks of the war, while the remainder opted to remain. They were known to be in safe areas not near conflict zones, authorities said.

Thailand expects it will meet its target of sending 10,000 workers to Israel by the end of this year, Mr Phiphat said.

Most of the workers are natives of Udon Thani, Chiang Rai, Nakhon Phanom, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima, he added.

Somchai Morakotsriwan, director-general of the Department of Employment, said Thailand exported 67,208 workers through official channels in the 2022-23 fiscal year that ended last Sept 30. Israel was one of the top five destinations.

The majority of Thai workers heading to Israel applied for jobs in the agricultural sector, followed by hospitality and food services. Their average monthly income is around 50,000 to 55,000 baht, he said.

“The government prioritises the safety of our workers,” said Mr Somchai. “During a visit to Israel at the end of May, Mr Phiphat asked the Israeli government to ensure their safety by allowing them to work only in safe zones and instructing employers to provide the workers with shelters that are safe and strong.”

The department has been given a quota to send 5,000 agricultural workers to Israel in the second half of this year. As of June 13, more than 30,000 workers had applied to go there.

When Mr Phiphat visited Israel last month, he asked for an increase in the annual quota of farm workers from 6,000 to 20,000, and to allow up to 25,000 Thai construction workers to work in the country.

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