Israeli strike kills first int'l UN staff member, injures another in southern Gaza

Ahram Online , AFP , Wednesday 15 May 2024

A UN security services member was killed and another wounded in an Israeli attack on a vehicle carrying UN staff in Rafah in southern Gaza on Monday, a UN spokesperson said, adding that they were on their way to assess the situation at the European Hospital in Rafah.

UN Vehicle
The Israeli attack marks the first time a UN international employee has been killed in the Gaza war. Photo circulated on X (formerly Twitter)


The incident marked the first death of a UN international employee in the Palestinian territory since Israel's war on Gaza began seven months ago.

"The Secretary-General condemns all attacks on UN personnel and calls for a full investigation," Farhan Haq, deputy spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement released on Monday.

The secretary-general "sends his condolences to the family of the fallen staff member," he added.

UN spokesman Rolando Gomez revealed in a media briefing that the UN employee killed was an Indian national, adding that a second UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) member, was also wounded in the attack.

"The UN informs Israeli authorities of the movement of all of our convoys. That has been the case in any theatre of operation. This is a standard operating procedure," said Gomez.

"This was the case yesterday (Monday) morning, so we have informed them. And it was a clearly marked UN vehicle."

He added: "This is a sheer illustration that there's really nowhere safe in Gaza at the moment."

US backs call for investigation

Gomez confirmed that Guterres had called for a full investigation.

"Of course we want accountability. This is the ultimate aim of this investigation. International humanitarian workers are not targets, so such attacks must end," he said.

The United States, Israel's main ally, backed calls for a probe, with State Department Spokesman Vedant Patel calling the strike "incredibly disturbing."

"UN and humanitarian workers must be protected, and they need to be able to continue their life-saving work," Patel told reporters in Washington.

"We join calls for a full investigation into this incident," he said.

While Monday's attack marked the first time a UN international employee has been killed in the Gaza war, a large number of local staff have been killed.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, alone has lost 188 of its 13,000 Gaza staff, according to UN figures.

"No one is safe in Gaza, including aid workers," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 35,173 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health ministry.

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