Thailand to send farm workers to Israel for first time since Hamas attacks

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand will resume sending agricultural workers to Israel this week after an eight-month hiatus, the Thai labour ministry said on Monday, with a target of having more than 10,000 of its citizens working in the country by year-end,

Around 30,000 Thai labourers had been working in the agriculture sector, comprising one of the largest migrant worker groups in Israel, before the conflict broke out last October.

Caught in the fighting when Palestinian Hamas gunmen attacked Israel on Oct. 7, 39 Thais were killed and another 32 were taken hostage, according to the Thai government.

Six of them are believed to remain in captivity.

"The government asked for the cooperation of the Israeli government to help emphasise to employers to take care of the safety of Thai workers," the labour ministry said in a statement.

The first batch of around 100 workers will fly out from the capital Bangkok on Tuesday, followed by another group in early July.

Many Thais, particularly from the rural northeast region, have sought employment in Israel drawn by higher wages and an opportunity to work their way out of ballooning debt, a gnawing issue for millions in Southeast Asia's second-largest economy.

(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat, Writing by Devjyot Ghoshal; Editing by Ed Davies)