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Indian Army veteran on UN assignment killed in Gaza attack

Darpan News Desk IANS, 14 May, 2024 12:06 PM
  • Indian Army veteran on UN assignment killed in Gaza attack

An Indian security official with the UN, killed in an attack on his vehicle, became the first foreigner working for the world organisation killed during the current Gaza official, according to a UN source.

Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale (retd) had started working a month ago as a security coordinator for the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) in Gaza on Monday, the UN official told IANS.

Kale was a 46-year-old father of two teenage children who had retired from the Army and joined the UN, the official said.

He joins the roster of more than 200 Indians who have died in the service of the UN. The majority of them - 179 - are peacekeepers but many other Indian civilians, who like employees of the DSS are not peacekeepers, have died working for the UN in various capacities in trouble spots.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attack and called for a full investigation, his spokesperson Farhan Haq said. He said that the DSS staffers were in the vehicle, with clear UN markings, that was in a convoy engaged in "their regular work (for which) they go to different locations to assess security conditions. And this was the European Hospital in Rafah".

DSS provides security for UN installations and personnel and often works under warlike conditions across the world. The UN provides food and humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, where its infrastructure has been destroyed in Israeli attacks and the UN has warned a famine is imminent.

The UN has not fixed blame for the attack on the UN convoy because the situation remains murky in Rafah where more than a million people fleeing Israel’s incursion into Gaza are sheltering, but now face an attack by Israel’s forces that have begun operations there.

But Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said that Israel had carried out the attack in its expanding military operations in Rafah.

It said that a Jordanian woman working for the UN in the vehicle was injured.

Israel Defense Forces said that according to an initial inquiry, Monday's attack happened in an active combat zone and that it was not made aware of the vehicle's movement. Al Jazeera broadcast clips showing windows with bullet holes on the attacked vehicle flying UN flags and bearing large UN markings. From the nature of the damage, it did not appear to have been an air or heavy artillery attack, but surface firing.

Haq said that Monday's victim was the first international employee of the UN killed in Gaza since October 7, although 188 Palestinian employees of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN arm for humanitarian services for Palestinians, have been killed.

"We will be working with the authorities on the ground to get restitution for all of those who have been killed," Haq declared.

Asked what the UN was doing to seek justice for the UN employees killed in the conflict, Haq said: "In all cases, we are going to set up measures for accountability".

"A lot of that, as you know, requires ultimately for an end to the conflict so that we can work these out," he said.

Guterres reiterated his call for a humanitarian ceasefire and the release of the hostages taken by Hamas, which sparked the conflict with an attack on Israel in which about 1,200 people were killed and 128 were kidnapped.

Israel's retaliation on Gaza, from where Hamas launched the attack, has killed about 34,000 Palestinians, most of them women, children or the aged.

Last month, four foreigners and three Palestinians working for a non-profit organisation, were killed in Gaza.

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