Many of those being repatriated are farm workers from Thailand’s poor northeast who had gone to Israel in search of vastly higher wages.
The mother and wife of Somma Sae-ja – a Thai man who moved to Israel two years ago to work in agriculture – were anxiously awaiting his safe return home after he was shot in the leg.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, I was so excited and worried,” his wife Nantawan Sae-lee, 30, told AFP.
“We don’t have much money so he went to Israel. He is a really good man.”
Mhee Sae-ja, his 55-year-old mother, said she was “overwhelmed”.
More than 5,000 Thais are seeking to return to the kingdom and diplomats are exploring potential sea and overland evacuation options.
Further Thai repatriation flights are due to leave Israel on Sunday and Wednesday next week.
Sawiang Paelin, 69, from Nong Khai, said her son was able to support his entire family by working abroad.
“No amount of money is more important than a person’s life,” she said.
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