Twenty-one Thais have been killed in a Hamas attack in Israel, Thai Prime Minister Shretha Thavisin announced today as he returned to Bangkok, where anxious families await their injured relatives.

Thavisin confirmed that the number of Thais killed in Israel stood at 21 during the time he was on board a plane that was to take him from Malaysia to Thailand.

Fourteen other Thais are among the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

In addition, fifteen Thais – among them several injured from the clashes – are expected to arrive today at Bangkok’s international airport.

Most come from the most remote and impoverished areas in the north-east of Thailand and have been working in Israel as farm laborers for a salary four times what they would earn in their home country, which they send back to their families.

Two more flights are expected on Sunday and Wednesday to repatriate more Thais as more than 5,000 of the roughly 30,000 working in Israel try to return home, according to the labor ministry.