Former Indian Army Colonel who lost life in Israel took premature retirement to join UN

Col Waibhav Anil Kale joined UN security service in Gaza only two months ago

Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale | Linkedin

A United Nations staff member who took premature retirement from the Indian Army as a colonel lost his life in an attack while on a United Nations deployment in the conflict-torn Rafa region near the Israel-Egypt border. 

A statement issued by Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for the UN Secretary-General on Monday said: “The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of a United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) 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.”

This is the first international UN casualty since the beginning of the conflict on October 7. The ill-fated UN vehicle was travelling from Rafah to the European Hospital in Khan Younis. 

From the 11 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles, Col Waibhav Anil Kale, 46, joined the UN security service as a coordinator in Gaza two months ago.

While there are no further details as to who attacked the UN vehicle in which Kale was travelling, the UN has ordered a full investigation into the incident while condemning all attacks on UN personnel. Col Kale leaves behind a wife and two teenage children in Pune.

A former course-mate of the officer recalled: “It is a terrible loss. Of cheerful disposition, he was a wonderful human being.”

Gilles Michaud, secretary-general, UNDSS, said in a statement: “Waibhav had been with our department for only a few weeks. I had the pleasure of meeting him in Gaza the day after he arrived to take up his post, after a distinguished career in the Indian military and private sector and service as a UN peacekeeper.”

“He told me that he had joined the UN because it seemed like the best way to make a difference. And Waibhav did make a difference. He signed up to work in support of people who desperately need help. In the most dangerous place, at a time of unimaginable crisis. This speaks volumes about his character. His contribution will not be forgotten.”

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