UN report prompts AP to change caption that blamed Israel for baby's death

A photo of a man in the Gaza Strip cradling his dead baby sparked outrage last November when The Associated Press published it with a caption saying the child was killed by an Israeli airstrike, but the wire service has since run a correction after the United Nations found a Hamas rocket was to blame.

The dramatic photograph, which showed BBC reporter Jihad al-Masharawi holding his 11-month-old son, Omar, at Shifa hospital in Gaza City, was picked up by the Washington Post and other outlets along with the damning caption. But in this case, United Nations has confirmed that Israel was not to blame for the death, which was instead caused by an errant rocket fired by Hamas militants.

“An errant Palestinian rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, likely killed the child during fighting in the Hamas-ruled territory last November, a U.N. report indicated, challenging the widely believed story behind the image which became a symbol of what Palestinians said was Israeli aggression,” the updated Associated Press caption reads.

“Omar was killed on Nov. 14, the first day of fighting,” the caption continued. “Palestinians blamed Israel, and this image was broadcast around the world and widely shared on social media.”

AP spokesman Paul Colford confirmed to the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that the caption had been updated to reflect the United Nations report, which was released last week.

The powerful image of Masharawi cradling his lifeless son became the center of a heated battle last year between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocates. Israel’s supporters said the photo was an example of the media’s rush to judge the Jewish state, while Palestinians said the snapshot was an example of Israeli aggression, the Free Beacon reports.

The child was "killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel,” according to the March 6 report from the U.N. office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Gaza's rulers, the militant Islamic group Hamas, whose fighters fired most of the rockets into Israel during the conflict, had no response Monday. BBC officials declined to comment and al-Masharawi said he couldn't discuss the issue. An Israeli military spokesman said they could not confirm or deny whether they hit the al-Masharawi house, the Associated Press reports.