Thai agricultural workers to return to Israel after 8 months

Before October 7, Israel had roughly 30,000 Thai laborers, working in farms, orchards, greenhouses and packing plants.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

For the first time since October 7, Thailand will resume sending agricultural workers to Israel on Sunday, the Thai Ministry of Labor said on Monday. The ministry aims to send 10,000 laborers by the end of the year.

Israeli agriculture is facing staggering losses in production and manpower.

Before October 7, Israel had roughly 30,000 Thai laborers, working in farms, orchards, greenhouses and packing plants.

Many opted to be repatriated after the war’s outbreak, while others in safer areas of the country chose to stay.

Israeli workers who might have filled labor gaps were called up for military reserve duty while Palestinian workers are currently banned as security risks.

“The government asked for the cooperation of the Israeli government to help emphasize to employers to take care of the safety of Thai workers,” the ministry’s statement said.

During Hamas’s October 7 attacks, 39 Thai laborers working in agricultural communities near the Gaza border were killed and another 32 were taken hostage.

Most were freed during a temporary ceasefire in November, but six are still captive in Gaza and their fate remains uncertain.

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Some Thai workers repatriated after the war’s outbreak returned to Israel on their own, saying they could make more money than they would in Thailand.

On Tuesday, Israeli officials approved a quota to import 92,000 foreign workers to fill gaps in agriculture, industry, hotels and restaurants.

Since October 7, Hezbollah rocket barrages and drone attacks have killed 22 Israelis and foreign nationals.

Leaders of the Iran-backed terror group have said they will continue the attacks to prevent thousands of residents of northern Israel from returning to their homes.

Many growing areas are within two kilometers of the Lebanese border where farmers have not been able to freely access fields and orchards.

However, residents of Gaza-border areas are gradually returning to their communities.

And the labor shortfall has impacted farms in central Israel and the Jordan Valley, which are not on the frontlines.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7.

Of the 116 remaining hostages, more than 30 are believed dead.

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