In an effort to alleviate President Reagan's concern about a wounded child depicted in news photographs from Beirut, the Israeli government has sent Reagan a picture of an apparently healthy baby and reported that the child is recovering.
Israeli Health Minister Eliezer Shostak, in a letter to Reagan, said the new picture is of the same child shown in the earlier photograph. Shostak enclosed statements attributed to the child's mother, grandfather and physician as supporting evidence.
Shostak's letter said a team of Israeli physicians, who located and examined the baby, "found that he has recuperated from the burns and that his fracture is healing well.".
Photographs of the child were transmitted from Beirut by the Associated Press and United Press International Aug. 1, along with caption information saying that the baby had lost both arms and was severely burned when an Israeli jet accidentally bombed a Christian residential area in East Beirut.
Reagan saw the UPI photograph in an Aug. 2 edition of The Washington Post and told several officials, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz, that he considered the baby to be the symbol of the war's devastation.
UPI, in a statement issued in New York yesterday, said it had concluded that the child had not lost his arms as first reported. Editor-in-chief H.L. Stevenson attributed the error to "the confusion at the time, at the hospital and in the city."
The agency did not retract its report that the child had been injured by a bomb dropped from an Israeli warplane.
On Aug. 9, reacting to the publicity, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Moshe Yegar denied the child had been injured in an Israeli bombing and charged that the injury was due to "indiscriminate shellings" by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
UPI said its correspondent, after an investigation, stood by the report that the child had been injured in an air attack.
On Aug. 20, the Israeli Foreign Ministry announced that the child had been located and that his injuries had not been as severe as reported earlier.
According to Shostak's letter to Reagan, dated Aug. 23, the child's name is Elie Masso, and he suffered an arm fracture and burns on his forehead and legs. The treatment of the child involved "tight bandaging of practically all of his body, as depicted in the UPI photograph," according to Shostak.
The Israeli minister's letter did not repeat the claim that PLO shelling injured the baby.
A statement supplied to Reagan and attributed to the child's grandfather, Constantin Hana Masso, said the the child was injured "when the airplane destroyed our house in Ramatiye in Beirut." An accompanying statement of the physician, identified as Dr. G. Hage, said the cause of child's fracture was "a shell fragment."
The statements by the grandfather and the physician said the child had been released after eight days in the hospital. The grandfather's statement also said the child will have to return to the hospital "for more treatment and for an examination of his fractured shoulder."