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UN Apologises To India Over Killing Of Ex Army Officer In Gaza

The United Nations (UN) has conveyed its condolences and apologies to India following the tragic killing of a former Indian Army officer in the war-torn Gaza Strip. Colonel Vaibhav Anil Kale, 46, who had recently joined the UN as a Security Coordination Officer, lost his life when the vehicle he was travelling in came under attack in Rafah, Gaza, on Monday morning.

Addressing the daily press briefing on Tuesday, UN Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq expressed the world’s regrets over the incident. “We also express our apologies and condolences to the Government and people of India,” Haq stated, acknowledging India’s contributions to the United Nations.

According to the UN, the deadly attack, which also injured another staff member from Jordan, is believed to have been carried out by shots fired from an Israeli tank. “We believe that she [the injured staff member] will make it through,” Haq informed, adding that Col. Kale was the “first international casualty” for the UN in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas conflict escalated last year.

The UN has established a fact-finding panel to investigate the attack’s circumstances. “It’s very early in the investigation, and details of the incident are still being verified with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF),” Haq said.

According to initial information, a weapon appears to have struck the back of the white UN vehicle carrying the two staff members, resulting in Col. Kale’s death. The UN currently has 71 international staff deployed in Gaza.

While the UN is in discussion with Israeli officials to determine the exact nature of the incident, Haq stated, “I don’t think at this stage we are in doubt about where the shots came from as much as what the circumstances were.” He further affirmed the UN’s belief that the shots originated from a tank in the area, which is assumed to belong to the IDF.

The convoy was en route to the European Hospital in Rafah as part of regular operations to facilitate the movement of personnel and civilians. However, the circumstances that led to the attack are still under review.

Col. Kale, who had commanded the 11 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles in Kashmir, retired prematurely from the Indian Army in 2022 before joining the UN Department of Safety and Security just two months ago.

The Permanent Mission of India to the UN expressed its sadness over the loss of Col. Kale, extending condolences to his family during this difficult time. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack on UN personnel, calling for a full investigation and reiterating his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the release of all hostages in Gaza.

The tragic incident underscores the risks faced by humanitarian workers operating in conflict zones and has prompted the UN to reiterate its call for the protection of its personnel. With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll on civilians and aid workers alike, the need for a cessation of hostilities and the facilitation of humanitarian access remains paramount.

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