Gaza Rocket Kills 2 Thais, Injures 8 Others in Israel

Nontarat Phaicharoen
Gaza Rocket Kills 2 Thais, Injures 8 Others in Israel A bomb squad member inspects a house after it was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Sderot, Israel, May 19, 2021.

Updated at 6:32 p.m. ET on 2021-05-21

A Hamas rocket attack on an agricultural estate near the Gaza Strip killed two Thai nationals and injured eight others who were treated in an Israeli hospital, Thailand’s government said Wednesday.

The rocket strike in Moshav Ohad occurred amid heavy fighting that broke out earlier this month between Israel and Palestinian forces, and which has shown no sign of letting up. Thais are among at least tens of thousands of migrants from Southeast Asian countries who work in the Jewish State.

“The deaths of two Thai labors in Israel and the injuries of eight from the Hamas attack in Moshav Ohad near the Gaza Strip on May 18, 2021, inflicted the worst casualties among Thai labors since the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian conflicts,” Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Tanee Sangrat told reporters.

Thailand’s labor ministry identified the dead workers as Weerawat Karanborirak, 44, of Petchabun province, and Sikarin Sangamram, 24, of Buriram province.

In addition, “the two seriously injured and six others with minor injuries received treatment at Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva. Some had improved and were released home,” Tanee said without providing details.

Magen David Adom (“The Red Shield of David”), an Israeli national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood-bank service, reported that paramedics and emergency medical technicians rushed to the scene of a mortar attack on Tuesday to provide aid to 10 injured workers. It said the two Thais died from their injuries.

Upon arriving at the scene, paramedic Omer Biton and others encountered a storage building on fire, where a mortar had struck, and injured people around the structure, Magen David Adom said on its website.

“We immediately began to triage and assess the severity of the injured,” Biton said. “One was in critical condition, three were in severe condition and five in moderate to mild condition. We provided medical treatment and began to evacuate them to the hospitals in ambulances and in one of MDA’s Medevac helicopters.”

Close to 19,000 Thais were registered in April as working in Israel, according to the Thai Ministry of Labor. The Thai Embassy in Tel Aviv said about 4,000 live or work within 100 km (62 miles) of the Gaza Strip.

A Thai agricultural worker who asked not to be named over privacy concerns told BenarNews that he wished his employer would move the staff to central Israel, away from the Gaza Strip.

“There were Thais who died in Moshav Ohad about 14 km (8.7 miles) from Moshav Talmei Yosef. We have about 200 here, working in cultivation areas,” the worker said.

“We have to look at the sky – to see if there are incoming rockets,” he said. “The employer lets us stop working only when rockets land near us and lets us hide in bunkers.

The worker said that he and the others, who are paid a daily wage, could face deductions if they could not work because of the ongoing fighting.

“Thai embassy officials came and took care of the injured, but cannot offer much help to other laborers. We want the embassy to deal with the employer to move us far from the war to the central region,” he said.

In Bangkok, Labor Minister Suchart Chomklin said authorities rushed to assist the victims and their families after Tuesday’s rocket attack near the Gaza Strip.

“The prime minister sent condolences to the families of the dead and conveyed concerns to the injured, and ordered concerned parties to assist them with compensation,” Suchart said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Thailand’s foreign-workers fund commits 80,000 baht (U.S. $2,550) for basic aid and funeral cost to the dead while those injured receive up to 30,000 baht ($956) for hospitalization bills.

The labor ministry said Israel’s National Insurance Institute had a program offering monthly compensation to those injured by the bombings and the widows and children of those killed.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to press ahead with military operations in the Gaza Strip despite calls from international leaders to end the fighting that has left hundreds dead, mostly on the Palestinian side.

“With every passing day we are striking at more of the terrorist organizations’ capabilities, targeting more senior commanders, toppling more terrorist buildings and hitting more weaponry stockpiles,” Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday. “I am determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved: to restore quiet and security to you, citizens of Israel.”

As of Wednesday, at least 217 Palestinians and 12 Israelis had died as a result of the fighting, Agence France-Presse reported. As many as 63 children were among the Palestinians who were killed.

An Israeli employer inspects rocket debris in Moshav Talmei Yosef near the Gaza Strip, May 16, 2021. [Photo courtesy of a Thai labor group]

On May 15, the Thai Embassy in Tel Aviv issued a statement calling on the warring sides to show restraint. 

“Thailand is deeply concerned by the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine and strongly urges all parties concerned to exercise utmost restraint and refrain from any provocative actions that could escalate the situation and cause further casualties of innocent civilians and damages to heritage sites,” the statement said. “Thailand also expresses its condolences and sympathies to those who have been affected by the violence.”

Earlier last week, the embassy began offering online guidance for citizens to remain safe.

Also last week, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs noted that 29,473 Filipinos have been working in Israel, the state-run Philippines News Agency (PNA) reported.

“So far, our embassy in Israel has not received any report of Filipino casualties. The embassy is in touch with Filipino organizations and networks; shelters are there to provide refuge, including for Filipino workers,” the department said in a statement.

The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, meanwhile, issued its own statement advising Filipinos to avoid going to the West Bank and areas in Jerusalem, PNA reported.

CORRECTION: An earlier version wrongly credited the Thai Ministry of Labor for the photograph taken in Moshav Talmei Yosef.


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