The United Nations on Tuesday said that it believes shots that killed the retired Indian Army officer working with the organisation in Gaza came from a tank in the area, noting that only Israel operates tanks in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The Indian national killed on Monday was identified as 46-year-old retired Colonel Waibhav Anil Kale, a member of the United Nations’ Department of Safety and Security who had been working in Gaza since April.

“I think the point is we are in discussion with Israel to determine exactly how this incident happened and the nature of what happened,” United Nations Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said. “I don’t think at this stage we are in doubt about where the shots came from as much as what the circumstances were.”

He added: “We believe it came from a tank in the area.”

The vehicle in which Kale was travelling was attacked as it was travelling from Rafah to a hospital in the city of Khan Younis. Kale is the first non-Palestinian United Nations staffer to be killed in Gaza since October 7, when the Israel-Hamas war erupted.

The United Nations on Tuesday also apologised and expressed condolences to the government and people of India for the death of the Indian staff member.

“We appreciate the contribution that India has made, and we also express our apologies and our condolences to the Government and people of India,” Haq said.

The United Nations did not directly name Israel as the perpetrator of the attack that killed Kale, saying that the case was under review.

On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had said that he was “appalled by the escalation of military activity in and around Rafah by the Israeli Defense Forces”.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday expressed grief over the retired Army officer’s demise.

“We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and dear ones,” the ministry said. “Our Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and our Missions in Tel Aviv and Ramallah are extending all assistance in the repatriation of mortal remains to India and continue to be in touch with relevant authorities regarding the investigation into the incident.”

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge also took to X to express his condolences to Kale’s family.

Israel’s war on Gaza began after Palestinian militant group Hamas’ incursion into southern Israel on October 7 that killed 1,200 persons. The militant group had also taken over 200 persons hostage.

Since October, Israel has been carrying out unprecedented air and ground strikes on Gaza. The attacks have killed more than 35,500 Palestinians, including over 14,500 children.