Thai workers in Israel red zone plead for government aid to return home

Photo: Bangkok Post

A plea for help has been issued by 28 Thai workers located in Israel. They are calling for the Thai government to facilitate their return home after their employer allegedly abandoned them in a high-risk area of ongoing conflict, known as the “red zone” and coerced them into continuing their work.

A 31 year old man, Pongsakorn Intaworn, from Ban Dung district in Udon Thani, raised the alarm during a video call. He declared that he and his 27 compatriots were left stranded in Yated, a small town in southern Israel merely 10 kilometres from the volatile Gaza Strip. Pongsakorn and his colleagues work at a tomato farm.

Pongsakorn disclosed that the group’s Israeli employer had initially relocated them to a remote town situated 200 kilometres from Yated on October 10, only to return them to the farm on October 15 and leave them there.

The farm is now within a red zone where attacks are frequent, and the workers are growing increasingly anxious about their safety.

“We want to return home. We would like [the Thai authorities] to contact the Royal Thai Embassy in Israel to negotiate with our employer. We do not want to die.”

Another Thai worker at the farm, 35 year old Abe, revealed that their employer had rejected their requests to permit them to return to Thailand. Once they were transported back to Yated after a brief five-day stay in a shelter in the other town, Abe said the employer reportedly left them immediately.

Thai workers stuck in war zone

“We want to ask any Thai official to help us by talking to our employer. We are now anxious that any one of us could be hurt because all 28 of us are working amid the conflict.”

Meanwhile, in Thailand, 30 year old Yupin Tongdeenok, a resident of Nakhon Phanom province, stated to the media that her sister-in-law is being compelled to work in Israel despite being near the Gaza Strip and the conflict.

The sister-in-law, 35 year old, Jaruwan Chantawong, hails from the Renu Nakhon district of Nakhon Phanom. Yupin indicated that Jaruwan journeyed to Israel four years ago to work on a farm.

Yupin disclosed that nearly 50 Thai workers, the majority from the northeastern region, are still at the farm with her sister-in-law. The workers are dealing with not only the anxiety of the nearby conflict but also electricity and food shortages.

Their families back in Thailand are now reaching out to the Royal Thai Embassy in Israel in a bid to facilitate their return, reported Bangkok Post.

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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.

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