An allegedly armless child, whose picture is reportedly displayed on President Reagan’s desk as a symbol of suffering in Lebanon, turns out to be a boy, not a girl as alleged, with both arms intact. The child, identified as four-month-old Eli Massou, whose mother is 16 years old, was discharged from the hospital a few days after the picture was taken.
According to the caption accompanying the United Press International photo distributed throughout the world, it was a picture of a baby girl swathed in bandages after both arms had been blown off by a misdirected Israeli bomb. The child was seen held in the arms of a nurse.
After a news report that Reagan had publicized the picture as a symbol of suffering in the Lebanon war, the Israel medical corps started to track down the infant and the nurse holding him.
The nurse and the doctor who treated the baby were found, and sworn depositions were taken from them. The child was tracked down along with his mother in a Lebanese village where they had taken refuge after they were both released from the hospital.
According to the medical report, one of the infant’s arms was broken in a bombing raid. The arm and his face were also slightly burned. His mother was also slightly injured in the raid and his father was killed. Doctors said the child was completely swathed, as shown in the UPI photo, because that is the standard procedure of dealing with an infant whose arm has been broken to prevent unnecessary movement during medical treatment.
Photographs of the apparently now healthy baby were published in Israeli papers today. Copies have been sent to the Israel Embassy in Washington, which presumably sent a copy to the White House to replace the incorrectly-captioned picture on the President’s desk.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.