ISRAEL - Thai Farmhands Face Conundrum

J. Froese

Ubon Namsan went to Israel a year ago as a farm laborer, toiling in the fields and greenhouses of a kibbutz just a few miles from the Gaza border, where he planted and harvested pineapple, strawberries and passion fruit. He was earning the equivalent of around $1,300 a month—a princely sum back in his native Thailand, where most of his wages went to support his family. 

Then came the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7.

“There were a lot of rockets flying over our heads. They kept coming, more and more,” Namsan tells NPR by phone from his family’s home near the Thai-Laos border. “But we kept working.”

Militants killed some 1,400 people in Israel that day and took 240 hostages into Gaza, according to Israeli authorities. Among those killed or kidnapped were more than 50 citizens of Thailand—34 killed and 24 taken hostage, Thailand’s ambassador to the U.S., Tanee Sangrat, confirmed to NPR. Nineteen more Thais were injured in the attacks.

Many hailed from the same impoverished region of northeastern Thailand that Namsan comes from. Thais make up the largest group of foreign nationals working in Israel, mostly employed doing unskilled labor in the country’s farms., 9 November 2023


As with nearly all developed nations, Israel finds it hard to find those willing to harvest its fields. Thus, it has made an agreement with Thailand to allow guest workers to come to Israel to work in the agricultural industry. As the article shows, the workers are eager to come to Israel, where they can earn dramatically more than at home. This particular farm worker is now “back at home in Thailand … theoretically on a 45-day holiday mandated in his contract,” but he is ready to return to finish his contract and get paid. Likewise, other Thais are likely to be happy to replace him.

We are reminded of the spiritual message of our Lord, on is now occurring literally in the Holy Land: “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). -By J. Froese

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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