A false news article making the rounds on social media could potentially have had a devastating result: nuclear war. The report misquoted a former Israeli defense minister and managed to inflame one of the world's nuclear powers to the point that Pakistan's defense minister threatened to flex his country's nuclear missiles in response.
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It all began with a fake report by a site called AWD News. The article misquoted former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon as saying Israel would destroy Pakistan should it send ground forces to Syria to battle ISIS.
Needless to say, the report was fake. But that didn't stop Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif from tweeting a not-so-veiled threat at Israel: "Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear (sic) state too."
According to AWD News' false report, Ya'alon was responding to a recent announcement by Pakistan that it intends to put boots on the ground as part of the war on ISIS.
Even those unfamiliar with Israel's policy of ambiguity regarding its reported nuclear capabilities (Israel has never publically admitted to having nuclear arms, though foreign reports claim otherwise), Israel's stated neutrality on Syria and the fact that Ya'alon has not even been a member of the government since May are enough to debunk the report.
Responding to the Pakistani minister, the Defense Ministry said: "The statements attributed to former defense minister Ya'alon regarding Pakistan were never said. The report the Pakistani defense minister responded to is completely false."
AWD News, which first published the false report, has a questionable record. According to the fact checking site Snopes.com, the site has a record of promoting "conspiracy theory to create alarming (and thus clickable and shareable) stories." For example, it once reported that the Jordanian king had murdered his wife (Queen Rania is very much alive and quite active on social media) and even once claimed that CIA was behind an assassination attempt on Trump.