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Palestinian Rocket Likely Killed 11-Month Old In Gaza, UN Report Says

Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad.
Majed Hamdan
Jihad Masharawi weeps while he holds the body of his 11-month old son Ahmad.

It became the iconic photograph of Israel's military strikes in Gaza last November:

It showed Jihad Misharawi, a BBC Arabic journalist, carrying the body of his 11-month-old son, Ahmad. Misharawi is wailing, asking "What did my son do to die like this?"

An easy inference to make from the photograph was that the boy died because of an Israeli airstrike.

But a new United Nations report published this month says that Misharawi was likely the victim of an errant Palestinian rocket. The Guardian reports the missile "fell short of Israel."

The paper adds:

"Gaza's rulers, the militant Islamic group Hamas, whose fighters fired most of the rockets into Israel during the conflict, had no response on Monday.

"BBC officials declined to comment, and Jihad Misharawi said he could not discuss the issue. An Israeli military spokesman said it could not confirm or deny whether it hit the Misharawi house.

"Matthias Behnke, head of the OHCHR in the Palestinian territories, said he could not 'unequivocally conclude' that the death was caused by an errantly fired Palestinian rocket. He said information gathered from witnesses led the office to report that 'it appeared to be attributable to a Palestinian rocket'."

Our blog post at the time did not assign blame, noting that "Misharawi's neighborhood in Gaza City was not under attack when a shell came through the roof of his home and hit the room where Misharawi's son, Ahmad, was."

That said, the caption that accompanied the photograph did say Ahmed's death followed an "Israeli air strike..."

The Guardian reports that while UN authorities could not "unequivocally conclude" it was a Palestinian rocket that killed Ahmad, all the signs — the type of damage, the kind of injuries — point to "a homemade rocket."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.