India condoles death of ex-Army Col Waibhav Kale in Rafah, body being repatriated

New Delhi, May 15 (UNI) India on Wednesday expressed deep sadness over the death of ex-Indian Army officer Col Waibhav Anil Kale, who was killed when the UN vehicle he was travelling in was shelled in war-torn Rafah.

The Ministry of External Affairs, in a statement extended condolences to the family, and said that the Indian missions in the UN and in Israel are extending all assistance to repatriate the body to India.

Amid conflicting reports that the UN vehicle Col Kale was in was hit by an Israeli IDF strike, the MEA also said that the Indian missions will be in touch with the relevant authorities regarding investigation into the incident.

Col Kale had taken premature retirement from the Indian Army in 2022, and joined the UN as a Security Coordination Officer in the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) two months ago.

He had served with the 11 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles.

Col Kale is the first UN staffer to be killed in the ongoing Gaza war.

The MEA in a statement said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale (Retd.), Security Coordination Officer in the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) in Gaza on 13 May 2024. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones.

“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.”

On Tuesday, Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, in a statement while condoling the death said that Col Kale was killed and another DSS staffer was injured when their UN vehicle was struck as they traveled to the European Hospital in Rafah.

“The Secretary-General condemns all attacks on UN personnel and calls for a full investigation. He sends 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.”

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