Israel: Retd Indian Colonel’s killing in Gaza under review : The Tribune India

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Israel: Retd Indian Colonel’s killing in Gaza under review

Saddened by ex-officer’s death in Rafah: MEA

Israel: Retd Indian Colonel’s killing in Gaza under review

Col Waibhav Anil Kale (retd)

Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, May 15

Two days after Col Waibhav Anil Kale (retd) was killed reportedly from firing from a tank despite the UN informing the Israeli authorities about the movement of a vehicle carrying him and other UN staff, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has mourned the officer’s death.

However, the Israeli military said it had “not been made aware of the route of the vehicle”. “The incident is under review,” it said.

“We are deeply saddened by the death of the Security Coordination Officer in the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) in Gaza on May 13. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones,” said a statement from the MEA on Wednesday. The MEA’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah are extending assistance in the repatriation of the mortal remains to India. Without mentioning the name of the perpetrators, the MEA said it continued to be in touch with the “relevant” authorities regarding the investigation into the incident. The Israeli Defence Forces is the only institution to have announced a “review” into the firing on a UN vehicle whereas the US has joined demands — not made by the MEA — for a thorough investigation into the incident.

Video footage of the white car with UN markings showed its windscreen riddled with bullet holes. The death of Colonel Kale, who joined the UN security services two months ago, was the first of an Indian and a UN international employee in the Palestinian territory since the Israel-Hamas conflict began over seven months ago.

The UN said it informed the Israeli authorities of the movement of all its convoys. “That has been the case in any theatre of operation. This is a standard operating procedure… and it was a clearly marked UN vehicle,” said UN spokesperson Rolando Gomez at a media briefing in New York. While Colonel Kale’s death was mourned by the UN a few hours after the incident, a day later, the US State Department called it “incredibly disturbing”, there was no word from External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar or the MEA’s X handle. Rather Jaishankar wished a happy national day to his Israeli counterpart. Only India’s Permanent Mission in New York mourned Colonel Kale’s killing.

However, the US State Department dwelt at length on the incident. “The reports are incredibly disturbing. And we are very concerned by what we’re seeing of the reported strike on a UN vehicle in Gaza that killed one aid worker and injured another…UN and humanitarian workers must be protected, and they need to be able to continue their lifesaving work. And we join calls for a full investigation into this incident,” said State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel at a media briefing when asked if after the death of 250 local aid workers and now of Colonel Kale, the US still believed Israel was not targeting them.

Patel said he expected Israel to follow through with the new IDF coordination cell for real-time humanitarian efforts. “And we emphasise that there needs to be a focus on safeguarding designated sites, safeguarding aid personnel and civilians. And we urge Israel to expedite the de-confliction cell full,” he underlined.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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