Updated May 15th, 2024 at 14:45 IST

Ex-Indian Army Colonel Vaibhav Anil Kale Killed in Gaza, Marking UN's First Casualty in Gaza War

Retired Indian Army Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale, serving as a Security Coordination Officer with the United Nations, tragically lost his life in a Gaza attack.

Reported by: Yuvraj Tyagi
IDF Convoy | Image:AP
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Gaza: A retired Indian Army colonel working with the United Nations was killed in action in Gaza when the vehicle he was travelling in came under attack in strife-torn Rafah, marking the "first international" casualty for the world body since the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict. 

Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale, who recently joined the UN as a Security Coordination Officer in the UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS), tragically lost his life during the attack. Kale, formerly of the 11 Jammu & Kashmir Rifles (11 J&K Rif), was struck in Rafah, making him the “first casualty” among international UN staff in Gaza since the conflict's inception following the October 7 terror attacks. 

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Mission of India Mourns Loss 

In a statement, the Permanent Mission of India to the UN mourned the death of Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale, describing him as a dedicated professional committed to serving humanity. Col Kale, who joined the UN three weeks ago, had a distinguished military career spanning over two decades before transitioning to humanitarian work.

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Col Kale's tragic death has deeply affected his family, friends, and colleagues. Hailing from Nagpur, Col Kale was a highly educated individual with degrees in Behavioral Science and International Humanitarian Law. He served in various capacities during his military career, including command roles in Kashmir and participation in UN peacekeeping missions. 

Col Kale's body is being repatriated to India, where he will be laid to rest with full military honors. Survived by his wife, Amruta, and two children, Vedant and Radhika, Col Kale leaves behind a legacy of service and sacrifice.  

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The loss of Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by humanitarian workers in conflict zones and underscores the urgent need for a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Hamas conflict to prevent further loss of life. 

Demand for Accountability  

Responding to questions, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, Farhan Haq, confirmed that the incident marked the "first international UN casualty" and emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into the attack. Haq underscored the UN's commitment to holding perpetrators accountable and providing restitution to the families of those affected.

Haq said he did not have the full details of whether the vehicle that was struck was part of a large convoy. “I believe it was in a convoy that was moving, and this was the DSS vehicle that was hit.” During the incident, another DSS staffer sustained injuries, highlighting the perilous conditions faced by UN personnel working in conflict zones. 

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UN Secretary-General Condemns Attack 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep sadness over the loss and injury of UN staff and condemned all attacks on humanitarian workers, emphasizing the urgent need for a ceasefire and the release of all hostages. 

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The attack underscores the volatile situation in Gaza, where violence has taken a heavy toll on both civilians and humanitarian workers. With more than 190 UN staff previously killed in Gaza, Guterres reiterated the imperative of protecting humanitarian workers and appealed for an immediate cessation of hostilities. 

Director-General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed his condolences and called for an end to the violence, emphasizing the need for a ceasefire to prevent further loss of civilian and humanitarian lives.

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In a post on X, Guterres said the UN vehicle was struck in Gaza, “killing one of our colleagues & injuring another.” He said that more than 190 UN staff have been killed in Gaza. “Humanitarian workers must be protected. I condemn all attacks on UN personnel and reiterate my urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire & the release of all hostages,” he said. 

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Published May 15th, 2024 at 14:45 IST