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Trib report on secret nuclear batteries spurs reporting in Israel

Mary Ann Thomas
| Thursday, June 8, 2017, 12:39 a.m.
Zalman Shapiro, founder of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. in Apollo.
Tribune-Review
Zalman Shapiro, founder of the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. in Apollo.

Media outlets in Israel have been reacting to a Tribune-Review story that a Pittsburgh scientist, Zalman Shapiro, provided nuclear batteries for listening devices used by Israel in the Six Day War 50 years ago.

The Tribune-Review story featured exclusive interviews with Shapiro before he died last year. He founded the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. (NUMEC) of Apollo, which produced nuclear fuel and nuclear products, including the revolutionary nuclear batteries used to power space exploration, heart pacemakers and surveillance devices.

According to Shapiro and intelligence reports, the project was secret in both countries.

Because Israeli news agencies are subject to government censorship, topics such as NUMEC's role in helping Israel to win the Six Day War have been forbidden for publication — unless a foreign media outlet publishes them first.

In the hours after the Tribune-Review's story hit the internet, some Israeli news outlets were quick to pick up a story they had known about for some time but couldn't publish.

The Jerusalem Post almost immediately Tweeted the Tribune-Review's story.

An Israeli reporter, Ronen Bergman of Yediot Achronot newspaper, added to the Tribune-Review report that his newspaper had similar information about the NUMEC batteries used in the Six Day War 10 years but could not release the information because it was "rejected over the years for publication by the censor."

Channel 10 television in Israel picked up the story as well, featuring it on the station's Monday evening newscast.

That roughly translates to: @news10 @MaThomas_Trib 11/more on this amazing story can be published now in Israel that a talented Pittsburgh journalist was told about it by Shapiro himself and has written about it.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or on Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.

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