India ‘deeply saddened’ by Gaza killing of ex-army officer working for UN

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Waibhav Anil Kale is the first international UN staff killed since October 7 in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The Indian government says it is “deeply saddened” by the killing of one of its retired army officers who was working for the United Nations in a suspected Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip.

Waibhav Anil Kale, 46, retired as a colonel in the Indian Army in 2022 and was working as a security coordination officer in the UN Department of Safety and Security in Gaza’s embattled Rafah region.

He was en route to the European Gaza Hospital in Rafah along with a colleague, when their vehicle came under attack on Monday. The colleague was wounded in the strike.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones,” said a statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday, without mentioning the circumstances in which Kale was killed.

“Our Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and our Missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah are extending all assistance in the repatriation of mortal remains to India and continue to be in touch with relevant authorities regarding the investigation into the incident,” said the statement.

Kale is survived by his wife Amruta and two teenage children, son Vedant and daughter Radhika, India’s NDTV network said in a report.

Meanwhile, the UN said it had launched an investigation into the “unidentified” strike which killed its first international staff in Gaza since October 7, a deputy spokesman for the UN secretary-general said on Tuesday.

Farhan Haq said the UN had set up a fact-finding panel to determine the responsibility for the attack. “It’s very early in the investigation, and details of the incident are still being verified with the Israeli [army],” he said.

There are currently 71 international UN staff members in Gaza, he added.

Israel has been moving deeper into Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million Palestinians had sought shelter, and its forces pounded the enclave’s north on Tuesday in some of the fiercest attacks in months.

Israel’s international allies and aid groups have repeatedly warned against a ground incursion into Rafah. The main UN aid agency in Gaza, UNRWA, estimates some 450,000 people have fled the city since the beginning of this month.

Palestinian authorities say Israel’s ground and air campaign in Gaza since October 7 has killed more than 35,000 people and driven most of the enclave’s 2.3 million people from their homes.

Read More: India ‘deeply saddened’ by Gaza killing of ex-army officer working for UN

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