Last updated: 12 March, 2013

Stray rocket killed baby of BBC Gaza reporter

A Gaza baby reported killed by Israeli fire during a major confrontation in the strip last year, was one of six Palestinians likely killed by stray militant rocket fire, a UN report has found.

In a report dated on March 6, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the infant, whose death on the first day of the November flareup was widely reported as due to an Israeli air strike, may have died as a result militant rocket fire which went awry.

“During the crisis, 174 Palestinians were killed in Gaza. At least 168 of them were killed by Israeli military action, of whom 101 are believed to be civilians, including 33 children and 13 women,” the report said.

“Six civilians, including one woman and three children, may have been killed by rockets fired by Palestinian armed groups that landed in Gaza,” it found, noting that the flareup had also killed six Israelis, four of them civilians.

The 11-month-old boy, Omar Mashharawi, died after being hit by shrapnel just hours after the eruption of a deadly eight-day confrontation between Israel and Hamas militants on November 14.

Omar was the infant son of Gaza-based BBC video editor Jihad Mashharawi, and a photo of the anguished father holding his body wrapped in a white shroud was widely published, and quickly distributed online via social networks.

At the time, human rights groups and medics quoted by media outlets, not including AFP, blamed his death and that of two adults in the same building in Gaza City’s Zeitun neighbourhood, on an Israeli air strike.

In its report, the Human Rights commissioner referred to the case without using the child’s name.

“On 14 November, a woman, her 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zeitun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel,” said the report without naming the casualties.

The violence spiralled after an Israeli air strike killed a senior Hamas military commander in Gaza City, prompting a furious response from militants who pounded the Jewish state with rockets, prompting a flurry of deadly air strikes.

According to figures provided by medical and human rights sources in Gaza as well as medics in Israel, the eight-day confrontation claimed the lives of 177 Palestinians, over 100 of them civilians, and six Israelis, including four civilians and two soldiers.