Ex-Indian Army officer With UN Killed In Gaza, First International Casualty Since Israel-Hamas Conflict

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Deeply saddened by the loss of Col Waibhav Kale: Indian Permanent Mission

KD NEWS SERVICE

UNITED NATIONS, May 14: A retired Indian colonel working with the United Nations was killed in Gaza when the vehicle he was travelling in came under attack in strife-torn Rafah, the “first international” casualty for the world body since the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Col Waibhav Anil Kale, who took premature retirement from the Indian Army in 2022, two months ago joined the UN as a Security Coordination Officer in the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS).

Kale, who was with the 11 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles (11 J&K Rif), killed in Rafah is the “first casualty” among international UN staff in Gaza since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict following the October 7 terror attacks.

Another DSS staffer was injured in the incident when their UN vehicle was struck as they travelled to the European Hospital in Rafah.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “was deeply saddened to learn of the death of a United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) staff member and injury to another DSS staffer when their UN vehicle was struck as they travelled to the European Hospital in Rafah” Monday morning. Israel has ordered an investigation into the attack.

A statement issued by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said that Guterres condemned all attacks on UN personnel and called for a full investigation. Guterres sent his condolences to the family of the fallen staff member.

“With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll – not only on civilians but also on humanitarian workers – the Secretary-General reiterates his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the release of all hostages,” the statement added.

In a post on X, Guterres said the UN vehicle was struck in Gaza, “killing one of our colleagues & injuring another.”

He said that more than 190 UN staff have been killed in Gaza. “Humanitarian workers must be protected. I condemn all attacks on UN personnel and reiterate my urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire & the release of all hostages,” he said.

Responding to questions on the incident during the press briefing, Haq said at this point, “We are in the process of informing the relevant governments and the relevant family members, so I wouldn’t share any names or nationalities.”

He added that they were “international staff.” Haq confirmed that “this is, in fact, the first international UN casualty.”

While there have been international casualties involving workers for the World Central Kitchen in Gaza, Haq said that “of UN staff, I believe I’ve not been previously aware of an international casualty.”

Haq added that the vehicle was headed to the hospital “as part of their regular work, they go to different locations to assess security conditions. And this was the European hospital in Rafah.”

When asked for details about how their vehicle was struck, Haq said “This happened fairly recently. We’re still accumulating details. We expect to get reports, including from the relevant authorities.”

He added that close to around 190 UN personnel have been killed in Gaza since October 7, “most of them national staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA.”

Haq added that the UN is “going to set up measures for accountability. A lot of that… requires ultimately for an end to the conflict so that we can work these out, but we will be working with the authorities on the ground to get a restitution for all of those who have been killed.”

Haq said he did not have the full details of whether the vehicle that was struck was part of a large convoy. “I believe it was in a convoy that was moving, and this was the DSS vehicle that was hit.”

Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a post on X, “We are devastated to learn about the death” of a UN humanitarian worker and injury of another in Gaza.

“Too many civilian and humanitarian lives have paid the price for this war. Ceasefire and work towards peace,” the WHO chief said.

In April, seven members of the World Central Kitchen were killed in an IDF strike in Gaza. One of those killed in the airstrike was Zomi Frankcom, who was of Indian descent, according to reports.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that between October 7, 2023, and May 12, 2024, at least 35,091 Palestinians have been killed and 78,827 injured in Gaza.

More than 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals, including 33 children, have been killed in Israel, the vast majority on October 7, when Hamas attacked Israel.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Mission of India to the UN on Tuesday condoled the death of a former Indian Army officer working with a UN agency in Gaza when the UN vehicle he was travelling in came under attack in war-torn Rafah. (PTI )

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