JERUSALEM – Israel's army released a photograph purporting to show a Palestinian baby dressed as a suicide bomber with ammunition belts and explosives strapped to its body and a head band bearing the name of the Islamic militant group Hamas.
The authenticity of the picture, which appeared in Israeli newspapers Friday, and whether the belts contained explosives could not be verified.
The army said the picture was found Tuesday in the family album of a wanted Palestinian during a search of his home in the West Bank city of Hebron. The baby appeared to be about 12 to 18 months old.
The army refused to identify the wanted man and said it wasn't known if the baby was related to him. The family could not immediately be located for comment.
The army spokesman's office said soldiers photographed the picture and left the original in the family album and that it didn't know if the ammunition was real.
Military officials said soldiers had been looking in the family album for an up-to-date picture of the wanted Palestinian.
Pictures of older children dressing up as suicide bombers are not uncommon — at a Hamas rally in the Gaza Strip on Friday, a boy about 10 was seen wearing fake explosives around his waist.
"Terror in Diapers" was splashed across the front page of the Israeli newspaper Maariv along with the picture. The daily Yediot Ahronot also carried the picture on the front page under the headline, "Chilling Costume."
Still, the picture of the baby was unusual and incensed Israelis, who have seen 71 suicide bombings in the past 21 months. Many of them have been claimed by Hamas.
"The photograph of the baby dressed as a suicide bomber symbolizes the incitement and hatred which the Palestinian leadership has been using to brainwash an entire generation of Palestinian children who have unfortunately taken in this message like mother's milk," said Dore Gold, an official in Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office.