Thai worker abducted in Hamas raid on Israeli avocado farm

Photo taken from Bangkok Post

A Hmong woman from Chiang Rai made a desperate plea to the authorities, seeking assistance in the search for her husband who was taken captive during a Hamas raid in Israel. The 28 year old woman, Suntree Saelee, lost all communication with her 26 year old husband, Kong Saelao, amidst the chaos and violence which kicked off on October 7.

The incident took place in an avocado orchard in Khirbet Mador, located roughly 3 kilometres away from the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian territory.

The orchard served as a worker’s camp, and it was during the Hamas raid that Saelao was reportedly seized. A coworker who managed to evade capture provided Saelee with disturbing visual evidence of the abduction, showing Saelao held in a headlock and hauled away by men in military attire.

“When I saw the picture and the clip, I knew it was him. I am concerned for his safety. Please help him. ”

Her voice choked with emotion when revealing that Saelao had been employed at the avocado farm for nearly a year, earning about 50,000 baht per month.

His aspirations included saving enough funds to construct a new home and purchase a vehicle for his family, being the sole income provider for his household.

Contact cut

Kong and Suntree kept in touch daily via an online platform. On the morning of the attack, Saelao spoke to his wife about an erupting conflict accompanied by gunfire and explosions. The call abruptly ended around 11.30am, marking the last time Saelee heard from her husband.

In the wake of the traumatic event, the district chief, Wirun Sitthiwong, announced that the provincial governor had directed a team from Chiang Khong Hospital to provide support to Saelao’s family. Additionally, arrangements are being made to repatriate Thai worker Weera Khantan from Israel at the request of the subdistrict head of Tambon Wiang.

Commenting on the situation, Wilaiporn Saeya, the assistant village head of Ban Kio Doi Luang, noted that over 20 Hmong men from Ban Kio Kan and Ban Kio Doi Luang have sought work in Israel, while others have found employment in South Korea, reported Bangkok Post.

The major driving force behind their global migration is the quest for a better income to support their families. The men typically work overseas for a period ranging from two to five years, enabling them to save money and settle their debts, Wilaiporn observed.

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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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