Only one problem: The PA denied the story.
But this is hardly the first time Ha'aretz reported something that turned out to be fictional.
It was Ha'aretz that started the rumor that the 18th century Jewish sage the Vilna Gaon had predicted the building of the Third Temple would commence on March 16, 2010. That story caused many angry headlines in the Arab world and put peoples' lives at risk. And it was not true.
And remember this story from Ha'aretz last April?
A new military order aimed at preventing infiltration will come into force this week, enabling the deportation of tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank, or their indictment on charges carrying prison terms of up to seven years.Well, it is now seven months later, and those confidently predicted mass deportations and arrests never happened - just as the IDF said at the time.
When the order comes into effect, tens of thousands of Palestinians will automatically become criminal offenders liable to be severely punished.
Did Ha'aretz apologize for these exclusive stories that got picked up and amplified throughout the world? Of course not. They can report whatever lies they feel like, consequences be damned.
Yet their "exclusives" still get picked up by Western reporters who respect a left-wing English-language news source that conforms to their preconceived notions of a racist Israel and oppressed, peaceful Arab population. It means that the other reporters don't have to do any real reporting to verify the stories.
And refuting the stories is not even on their radar.