UN launches probe into first international staff killed by strike in Rafah

A UN international staff member has been killed in a strike on a UN car in Rafah in the Gaza Strip [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu/Getty]

The United Nations has launched an investigation into a strike on a UN car in Rafah on Monday that killed its first international staff in Gaza since 7 October, a spokesperson for the UN Secretary General said.

The staffer, a retired Indian Army officer named Waibhav Anil Kale, was working with the UN Department of Safety and Security and was on route to the European Hospital in Rafah along with a colleague, who was also injured in the attack.

On Wednesday, India’s foreign ministry said its diplomatic missions were “in touch with relevant authorities” on the investigation, and helping to bring home the remains.

Israel has been moving deeper into Rafah in southern Gaza, where more than a million people had sought shelter, and its forces pounded the enclave’s north on Tuesday in some of the fiercest attacks in months.

Israel’s international allies and aid groups have repeatedly warned against a ground incursion into Rafah, where many Palestinians fled.

In a statement on Monday after Kale’s death, UN Secretary General António Guterres reiterated an “urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the release of all hostages,” saying the war in Gaza was continuing to take a heavy toll “not only on civilians, but also on humanitarian workers”.

Israel’s war on Gaza has driven most of the Palestinian enclave’s 2.3 million people from their homes.

The military offensive has so far killed at least 35,173 people, according to the Gaza health ministry.

On Tuesday, the UN Secretary General’s deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said the UN had set up a fact-finding panel to determine the responsibility for the attack.

“It’s very early in the investigation, and details of the incident are still being verified with the Israeli Defence Force,” he said.

There are 71 international UN staff members in Gaza currently, he said.

Israel has ordered civilians to evacuate parts of Rafah.

The main United Nations aid agency in Gaza, UNRWA, estimates some 450,000 people have fled the city since 6 May. More than a million civilians had sought refuge there.


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