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16 May, 2024 12:45

New Delhi reacts to death of former Indian soldier in Gaza

A retired Indian Army officer was killed while traveling in a UN vehicle in the Palestinian enclave
New Delhi reacts to death of former Indian soldier in Gaza

New Delhi is “deeply saddened” by the death of retired Indian Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale in war-torn Gaza and is “extending all assistance” to bring his remains back to India, the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The retired officer was killed and a colleague injured as they traveled in a UN vehicle to the European Hospital in Rafah on Monday. Both were members of the UN Department of Safety and Security. A spokesman for the UN secretary-general said on Tuesday that the shots that killed the worker “came from a tank in the area” and noted that only Israel operates armored vehicles in Gaza.

Israeli authorities had been informed of the car’s movements, a different UN spokesman told reporters, according to the Washington Post.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Monday claimed that it had not been made aware of the vehicle’s route, and added that the incident was “under review.” Both the UN and Israel have called for investigations into the attack.

Meanwhile, New Delhi has said it continues “to be in touch with relevant authorities regarding the investigation into the incident.” 

Kale had served as a contingent Chief Security Officer with the UN from 2009 to 2010, and had joined the United Nations Department for Safety and Security (UNDSS) as a Security Coordination Officer just a few weeks ago, according to reports in the Indian media.

New Delhi, which has expressed support for a two-state solution to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine, has repeatedly warned Indians trapped in Gaza and has been carrying out efforts to bring them home.

In the early days of the conflict, India evacuated dozens of its nationals stuck in Israel under its ‘Operation Ajay’. In March, New Delhi issued a warning to Indians living in border areas of Israel after an Indian was killed in a rocket attack in Margaliot in the northern part of the country.

Meanwhile, thousands of construction workers from India have flown to Israel during April and May to replace Palestinians blocked from entering the country since the outbreak of the war. While the workers stand to earn $150-$300 a month in their homeland, Israel is offering at least $1,600 per month.

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