First foreign UN aid worker killed in Gaza identified as Indian national

An Indian man became the first international casualty for the United Nations in Gaza since 7 October after a vehicle in which he was travelling came under attack in Rafah.

Waibhav Anil Kale, 46, who started working with the UN last month as a security service coordinator in Gaza, was killed on Monday.

Another UN staffer was injured in the attack.

Even though a UN statement did not confirm his identity, the Press Trust of India reported that he was an Indian and a former member of the Indian Army.

“The secretary-general was deeply saddened to learn of the death of a United Nations Department of Safety and Security (DSS) staff member and injury to another DSS staffer when their UN vehicle was struck as they travelled to the European Hospital in Rafah this morning,” Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for UN secretary-general António Guterres, said.

“With the conflict in Gaza continuing to take a heavy toll – not only on civilians but also on humanitarian workers – the secretary-general reiterates his urgent appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and for the release of all hostages,” the statement added.

The UN personnel was killed while he was travelling in a vehicle from Rafah to the European Hospital in the southwest corner of Khan Younis.

The Washington Post reported that the incident was currently being investigated. It cited sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying that no conclusive information about who fired at the vehicle was available at the moment.

Mr Haq was quoted as saying that the UN has informed “the Israeli side of the movement of all our convoys. They are all clearly marked UN vehicles”.

Meanwhile, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson mentioned that the IDF had not been informed about the vehicle’s route and stated that the incident was “under review”.

Since 7 October last year, 191 UN workers, predominantly Palestinians, have lost their lives in Gaza, including the recent casualty reported on Monday, according to Olga Cherevno, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Between 7 October 2023 and 12 May 2024, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs mentioned that more than 35,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, with over 78,000 sustaining injuries in Gaza.

Director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, responding to the news of the news of the UN staffer who was killed on Monday, said: “We are devastated to learn about the death of a @UN humanitarian worker and injury of another in #Gaza today.

“Too many civilian and humanitarian lives have paid the price for this war.

“Ceasefire and work towards peace.”

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), approximately 360,000 people have evacuated Rafah since receiving the initial evacuation directive a week ago. Among them, many have been displaced on multiple occasions over the last seven months.

Meanwhile, evacuation directives issued last Saturday for northern Gaza, amidst continued Israeli bombardment, have led to the displacement of around 100,000 people so far.