Thai worker returns to Israeli farm amidst conflict to support family

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

A 33 year old man from Buri Ram has opted to return to his job on an Israeli farm, notwithstanding the ongoing conflict in the region. He had initially returned to Thailand as part of the government’s repatriation initiative that brought thousands of Thai workers home from Israel.

With mounting debts and a family to support, Tom Prongjit found the prospects at home in Tambon Nong Tat of Buri Ram’s Muang district rather bleak. Consequently, he decided to return to Israel on December 3.

“He was left with no other option but to return as he had to repay debts and interest amounting to around 700,000 baht (US$ 20,033). The loan was taken from the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. He also has to support his family and two children,” explained his mother, 62 year old Boonsri Prongjit.

Tom had already exhausted the 15,000-baht (US$ 429) compensation received from the government, which led him to take the risk to fulfil his five-year-and-three-month contract, according to Boonsri.

“My son had worked there for one year and two months before he decided to return home for his safety. Now that he’s back in Israel, I just hope he’ll make it back home safely once again,” she voiced.

Tom, who works on farmland in the Master-Q community, located about 20 kilometres from the conflict zone between Gaza militants and Israel, regularly updates his mother about his life and working conditions. His employer covered all his travel expenses from Thailand, reported Bangkok Post.

“If I had a say, I wouldn’t have let my son return to work in Israel. But he was adamant about going back because the salary in Israel is sufficient to clear all his debts and support our family,” she added.

In a related issue, Wilas Tanna, a farmer and recycler in tambon Ban Khu of Buri Ram’s Na Pho district, is hopeful that his 35 year old son, Pongsak Tanna, will be freed by the militant group Hamas. Pongsak has been held captive since October 7.

Wilas relayed that he was informed by Thai officials that his son is safe, which brought him some relief.

Following news reports in Israel, Wilas expressed relief to hear that Hamas has begun to release hostages, including his son’s colleague, Santi Boonprom, a native of Buri Ram.

“My New Year’s wish is for my son to be released by Hamas. If he returns to Thailand, I don’t want him to risk his life working in Israel anymore,” Wilas stated.

As per the Foreign Ministry, eight Thais are still held captive by Hamas. The Labour Ministry has found that approximately 60% of Thai workers who returned from Israel are willing to go back.

Thailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

Related Articles