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Govt should strongly condemn killing of ex-Army officer in Gaza: Gokhale

Gokhale said the former Army officer was travelling in a clearly-marked UN vehicle when he was killed

Saket Gokhale

File Image: Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale on Wednesday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, urging that the government strongly condemn the killing of a former Indian Army officer in Gaza. (Image: X@SaketGokhale)

Press Trust of India New Delhi

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Trinamool Congress MP Saket Gokhale on Wednesday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, urging that the government strongly condemn the killing of a former Indian Army officer in Gaza.
Col Waibhav Anil Kale, 46, who took premature retirement from the Indian Army in 2022, had joined one of the UN agencies three weeks ago. He was killed in war-torn Rafah in Gaza on Monday morning, becoming the "first international casualty" for the world body since the Israel-Hamas conflict started last year.
"It is shocking that a retired Indian Army colonel was killed by Israel in Gaza and the shameless Modi Govt hasn't uttered a single word," Gokhale said in a post on X, where he shared the letter written to the External Affairs Minister. 
 
 
Gokhale said the former Army officer was travelling in a clearly-marked UN vehicle when he was killed.
"It is clear from reports that Col. Kale was killed when his convoy was attacked in a strike by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). There is well-established international law which prohibits military strikes on UN personnel in a conflict zone," he said in his letter to the EAM.
 
"It is a matter of great concern and shock that the Govt of India has neither issued a condemnation of this heinous act by Israeli Forces and nor has it issued a dmarche to the Embassy of Israel with regards to the unprovoked and illegal attack on Col. Kale's vehicle which led to his death," he said.
"Col. Kale was a brave son of India who was performing a selfless job in a combat zone using the skills he honed in the Indian Army. An attack by the Israeli Armed Forces on an Indian veteran is unacceptable especially when Col Kale was not only a non-combatant but was also serving with the UN whose personnel are protected under international law," he said.
He said the incident deserves, "at the least, the strongest condemnation from the Government of India", and requested the minister to issue the "strongest possible condemnation ".
"I earnestly request you to issue the strongest possible condemnation of the killing of Col. Kale by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in violation of international law and to take up this matter with the Govt of Israel demanding a swift probe," he said.
The government should extends all possible help, support, and assistance to the wife and two children of Col Kale in this difficult time, he added.
The United Nations condoled and expressed apologies to India over the killing of the officer.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he 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."

A statement by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General, said that Guterres condemned all attacks on UN personnel and called for a full investigation.
Haq said the UN believes the shots came from a tank in the area.
When asked that only the IDF have tanks in the region, Haq said at the United Nations, I think that's a safe assumption to make, yes.

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First Published: May 15 2024 | 11:56 AM IST

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