Twelve people from Thailand have been killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants, the kingdom’s government said on Monday, as it prepared a plan to evacuate its citizens.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Kanchana Patarachoke said that the Thai embassy in Israel learned of the deaths from the victims’ employers.
She said a further eight Thais had been wounded and 11 taken captive since the war erupted when Hamas launched a large-scale attack on Saturday.
There are around 30,000 Thai workers in Israel, according to Bangkok’s labour ministry, many of them working in agriculture.
Labour minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn said Israeli forces had begun to move about 5,000 Thais working in the danger zones to safety.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakkapong Sangmanee said nearly 1,500 Thais had requested evacuation, and the first group of 15 were expected to leave on Wednesday.
“The first group that we will evacuate will be injured people who already left the risk area,” he told reporters.
He said Thailand was working with other countries with links to the Palestinians to secure the release of its citizens taken hostage.
More than 1,100 people have been killed in the conflict in Israel and Gaza, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning of a “long and difficult” fight ahead.
The high figure underscored the extent of planning by the militant group, which has said it launched the attack in response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, its blockade of Gaza, its discriminatory policies in annexed east Jerusalem and tensions around a disputed Jerusalem holy site sacred to Muslims and Jews.