Contrary to initial reports, the one millionth person to get vaccinated, who was photographed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was never jailed for manslaughter, KAN clarified in a correction on Monday. The Jerusalem Post also published the report.
The correction, authored by Israeli journalist Eran Zinger, told the tale of how he and his coworker first got the tip that the man who got vaccinated was a previously convicted criminal.
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab Jabarin, 66, a resident of Umm el-Fahm, received Israel’s one millionth vaccination on Friday, at a celebratory event in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Our mistake was in publishing the information without receiving a response from Mr. Jabarin. We thought the information we had was iron-clad, we trusted our sources, some of whom we’ve worked with for years. For that, we are deeply sorry, and express our apologies to Mr. Jabarin and to KAN,” the retraction statement said.
Zinger wrote that he received a tip from one of his sources on Sunday that pointed to the man’s criminal record. The tip was checked by other research and background sources at KAN, and seemed to be accurate. That’s when it was published that Jabarin had been previously convicted of manslaughter, for which he served 14 years in prison.
According to the information published at the time, he stabbed a man to death nearly 40 years ago, and was in prison for 14 years, until 1992.
Once the report circulated, Jabarin countered with the claim that he never killed anyone. He was involved in, and convicted of, severe criminal acts, including trading and smuggling weapons, as well as armed robbery, but not manslaughter.
Jabarin told Army Radio at the time that he “sat in jail, like a million people who sat in jail since the establishment of the state. I was not convicted of murder. I’m going to sue whoever said that. They used me to bash the prime minister.”
The report then added that, according to official prison records, Jabarin’s sentence was not a consecutive 14 years, rather it was broken up: 1981-1986, 1989-1991, 1992-1995 and 1996-1999.
Sources in the town told KAN they were surprised by the decision to choose Jabarin as the millionth vaccine recipient and guessed that the organizers of the vaccination did not know about Jabarin’s past.
“Still,” KAN continued, “we think there was journalistic importance in publishing the truth, that a man who was previously convicted of serious crimes was in the close vicinity of the prime minister, and no one knew any better.”
Tzvi Joffre and Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.