Kiattisak Patee, a chicken-farm worker, is feared to be one of 14 Thai citizens abducted during an attack in Israel by Palestinian gunmen. He remains missing, and his family in northeastern Thailand has spent the past few days racked with worry as it waits to hear about his fate.
Mr. Kiattisak, 35, was working on a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip. His family fears he may have been abducted on Sunday morning, said Kanjana Patee, his sister.
Thailand supplies the bulk of labor for Israel’s agriculture industry, and Mr. Kiattisak was one of 30,000 Thai citizens working in Israel, according to the foreign ministry. Many of them are underpaid and forced to work long hours, according to Human Rights Watch, which cited interviews with Thai workers. Thai workers in Israel can make at least $1,000 a month, according to Thailand’s labor ministry, far higher than what they would make in Thailand.
The effect of the violence meted out by Hamas gunmen has hit the Southeast Asian country hard, especially in its impoverished northeast. Twenty Thais have been killed and 13 have been injured, according to Thailand’s Foreign Ministry. More than 5,000 Thais have asked to be repatriated, according to the ministry.
Over the weekend, Thai PBS World, a news outlet, reported the names of six people believed to be hostages, citing Thailand’s labor minister. Mr. Kiattisak was among them. The foreign ministry has not released the names of the dead or the hostages, citing the need to notify the family members first.
But Ms. Kanjana, 29, said the family had not heard from Thailand’s Foreign Ministry or the Thai Embassy in Israel. “When we call, nobody takes the calls,” she said by telephone. “All we can do now is wait.”
“We don’t even know for sure if he is taken hostage or if he’s missing,” Ms. Kanjana said. “We can’t contact him at all.”
Ms. Kanjana said that her brother, who is from the northeastern city of Udon Thani, had been working in Israel for four and a half years and that he had left to help his family. He had signed a five-year contract.
Since the Thai PBS report, Mr. Kiattisak’s mother “has been very stressed and very downhearted,” Ms. Kanjana said. “She has been crying every day since she heard the news.”
In July, Mr. Kiattisak posted a video on Facebook of himself at a chicken farm, with hundreds of chickens behind him. His message, with the flag emojis of Israel and Thailand, was a farewell to his chickens before they were sold: “We have been together for months,” he wrote. “Now it’s time to say goodbye. Bye-bye.”