Bangkok, Oct 24 (EFE).- Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said Tuesday he was dissatisfied with the Israeli ambassador in Bangkok over pressure on Thai workers in Israel to stay in the country amid the escalation of tension in the Middle East.
Srettha said he had received reports that some employers offer between THB50,000 and THB100,000 ($1,381 and $2,762) to change the minds of Thai workers who have requested to return to their country as a result of the growing conflict between Israel and Palestine.
“I have spoken seriously (with the Israeli ambassador in Bangkok). I have told her that the issue of giving money (to Thai employees to stay longer) is unacceptable,” Srettha told the media before participating in a meeting of his Cabinet.
Israeli ambassador Orna Sagiv said she was unaware of these complaints and promised to investigate them, the prime minister said without providing more information.
Thais are one of the largest groups of migrant workers in Israel, along with Filipinos. They are also one of the nationalities who have suffered the highest fatality rates following the incursion of the armed wing of Hamas in Israeli areas on Oct. 7 near the Gaza Strip.
Some 30,000 Thais were in Israel, including 5,000 employed in the agricultural sector near the Gaza Strip, at the time of the assault in which 30 Thais were killed, while 19 others were kidnapped and 18 injured, according to Thailand’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The attack produced a flurry of requests from Thais to the government to help their repatriation. According to official figures, some 3,000 have already returned, while more than 8,000 are awaiting their turn.
Thailand began sending thousands of seasonal workers to Israel after signing an agreement in 2012 to fill jobs in the Israeli agricultural sector.
The situation of these workers has been denounced for alleged labor abuses and precarious housing and health conditions, as denounced by the NGO Human Rights Watch in a report in 2015.
However, Israeli authorities have denied these accusations and say hundreds of inspections are carried out each year to ensure the well-being of foreign workers.
The surprise attack by the armed wing of Hamas has left more than 1,400 dead in Israel, whose response bombings have caused the death of more than 5,000 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. EFE