Omar Al-Misharawi, Son Of BBC Arabic Worker Jihad 'Killed By Palestinian, Not Israeli Rocket' UN Report Suggests

A UN report has suggested an 11-month-old baby believed to have been killed in an Israeli air strike actually died when his home was hit by an off-course Palestinian rocket.

The image of BBC Arabic picture editor Jihad Al-Misharawi cradling son Omar’s shrouded body shortly after the strike in November last year became widely interpreted as a symbol of Israeli aggression towards Palestinians.

Al-Misharawi's sister-in-law was also killed and his brother was seriously injured in the incident in Gaza.

Jihad Misharawi weeps as he holds the body of his 11-month-old son Omar following an air strike

The strikes came just days after after Hamas's top military commander Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari was killed in Gaza.

A number of BBC staff tweeted condolences after hearing of the death of their colleague's son, which at the time was widely believed to have occurred during an Israeli air strike.

Yet a report from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has since claimed the little boy was “killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”

The 17-page report, which can be read in full here, does not named the Al-Masharawi family and refers to the incident in only a single sentence.

The Associated Press quotes Matthias Behnke, head of OHCHR office for the Palestinian territories, as confirming the report related to the incident and cautioning that he could not “unequivocally conclude” the death was caused by an errant Palestinian rocket, but that information gathered from eyewitnesses led them to report “it appeared to be attributable to a Palestinian rocket.”

As yet there has been no comment from the BBC or Hamas, and Al-Masharawi has said he cannot discuss the issue.

An Israeli military spokesman would not confirm or deny whether they hit Al-Masharawi’s house, although the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said it still held Israel responsible for Omar’s death.

The report criticises both Israeli and Palestinian armed groups for failing “in many instances to respect international law.”

Captions by Reuters

March 22, 2004

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