Correction Appended

AP alters controversial ‘dead baby’ photo caption following U.N. report

March 12, 2013

The Associated Press has corrected the caption on a controversial photograph depicting a Gaza-based BBC reporter cradling his dead baby.

The photo of Jihad Masharawi holding his dead son sparked outrage late last year when the Washington Post and other Western media outlets blamed an Israeli airstrike for the child’s death.

The United Nations confirmed Monday that Israel was not to blame for the child’s death, which was caused by an errant rocket fired by the terrorist group Hamas at Jewish civilians.

The AP and many other publications, most notably the Post, ran with the photo and story that erroneously blamed Israel.

The original caption read: "Jihad Masharawi weeps as he holds the body of his 11-month-old son, Ahmad, at al-Shifa hospital after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City."

AP spokesperson Paul Colford informed the Free Beacon Tuesday afternoon that the caption had been updated to reflect the United Nations’ new findings.

The AP photo of Masharawi became the focal point of a pitched battle last year between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian advocates.

Israel’s defenders said the photo was an example of the media rush to judge the Jewish state, while supporters of the Palestinians said the snapshot was an example of Israeli aggression.

The updated caption, which is just over 200 words, offers a correction and explains the controversy at length.

"Caption correction: Corrects information regarding the child's death in the first sentence, corrects child's name, and corrects family name," the correction reads.

"In this Nov. 14, 2012 file photo, an anguished Jihad al-Masharawi, a BBC reporter, clutches his slain 11-month-old son Omar, wrapped in a shroud, at Shifa hospital in Gaza City," the revised caption states. "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. Omar was killed on Nov. 14, the first day of fighting."

"Palestinians blamed Israel, and this image was broadcast around the world and widely shared on social media," the caption continues. "A March 6, 2013, report from the U.N. office of the high commissioner for human rights says the baby was ‘killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.’"

The AP notes that the BBC and Masharawi declined to comment on the new findings.

"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," according to the revised caption. "An Israeli military spokesman said they could not confirm or deny whether they hit the al-Masharawi house."

The AP caption had been partially updated late Monday, immediately following the release of the U.N. report. That update was later scrapped and replaced with the new one.

The Washington Post has updated but not corrected and retracted its erroneous story blaming Israel for the child’s death.