The Israeli Defense Ministry has reassured Pakistan it did not issue nuclear threats against Islamabad, after its defense minister responded to a fake news item with a veiled atomic warning to the Jewish state.
In an apparent response to a fake story claiming Israel’s former defense minister threatened a nuclear attack against Pakistan if it sends troops to Syria, Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif last week reminded Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
Israel’s Defense Ministry tweeted back Saturday, saying the original story on the site AWD News was “never said” and is “entirely false.”
AWD has been identified by fact-checking organizations as a fake news site. There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan to Israel’s response.
On Friday, the Pakistani minister tweeted: “Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too.”
reports referred to by the Pakistani Def Min are entirely false
— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) December 24, 2016
Israel Radio said Saturday that Asif was responding to a fake news story on the website AWDnews.com, which falsely reported that Israel responded to a Pakistani promise to send troops to Syria with a threat of nuclear attack.
The unfounded story even mistakenly attributes the threat to Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. Ya’alon left the Defense Ministry in May and was replaced by current Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Israel has never publicly confirmed or denied possessing nuclear weapons, nor issued threats to use nuclear weapons. It would be beyond unlikely for it to brazenly threaten Pakistan that “we will destroy them with a nuclear attack,” as the report claimed that Ya’alon did on Tuesday. Such ostensible comments by Ya’alon would have caused major headlines worldwide.
Asif’s tweet was roundly criticized on twitter, with many calling on him to act in a more responsible manner.
“Oh Khawaja Saab, It’s a Fake News From Fake News Outlets. Act Like a Defense Minister,” wrote one commentator.
It’s not the first time Asif has brandished his country’s nuclear arsenal.
In September he threatened to use tactical nuclear weapons against arch-enemy India.