THE ISRAELI STATEMENT ON THE ATTACK ON THE USS LIBERTY

Created: 6/21/1967

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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SUBJECT: Tbe IcracH Statement on the Attack on the USS Liberty

reliminary report of tbe special Court of Inquiry convened by the Oovernment of Israel has concluded that the "attack on the USS Hberty was not In malice; there was no criminal negligence und the attack va3 made by innocont mistakn." The report, however, has been turned over to the military Judge advocate who hasreliminary judicial inquiry by an officer empowered to convene courts matrial.

According to the Israelihain or threestaken led to the attack byts und torpedo boats upon the USS Liberty

First Mistake

first mistake was decisive and set the scenario forerrors. On the basis of erroneous reports, theforce (IDP) was convinced that Israeli poeltiona near Klbeing shelled by an unidentified vessel off the coast. the officers who knew cf the identification of Liberty earlymorning did not connect Liberty with the unidentified ehipabe shelling El Arish."

k* (CIA nan no evidence of these erroneous reports, but the information Is plausible in light of the vi*ry speedy Israeli advance and tbe beat of battle in the El Arish area. Tbe UAR Kavy ia not known to have shelled Israeli shore positionsune. The above admission that Israelis hai identified thetho overflight by jetc0Ms the first indication that the Israelis knew the Liberty was in the area prior to the attack.)

Second Mistake

5. Bie three Israeli torpedo boats petroling near the Liberty reported that the unidentified vessel was steamingheck of Liberty's maximum speed in Jane'a led IDF headquarters to believe that the unidentified (radarj targetigh speed combatant and not the Liberty. Considering the erroneous information on the shelling of Israeli coastal positions, the IDF asked the torpedo boats to verify the unidentified vessel's speed and then ordered an air attack.

6*. (It Is .most.bizarreualified naval commander- would compute Liberty's epeed to benots or that the IDP wouldon attack solely on the basis of an unidentified high speed.There iahip of Liberty's generalpeed and few have deck guns capable of shelling coastal If tha authorization to attack was &ade solely cn radar'the attacking aircraft would normallyreliminaryj..pass over *,

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7- The Israeli torpedo boats then Joined the fray. They claimedmistook the Liberty for the Egyptaln transport El Queseir andwith torpedoes after the jets had broken off. This attack laid to the overeagerness of the torpedo boat skippers as the jetwere already having their doubts as to the ship's identity. Israelis further state that tbe Liberty refuged to answersent by flashing light prior to the attack by the torpedo and the ship was firing toward tbe Israeli torpedo; ..

8. (CIA concurs that the torpedo attack was made bycoBBanders. There have been no US Navy reports of theissued In the heat ofif such areceived It would have been V"

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9- artial explanation for some of this unprofessional military is foundeport from Tel Aviv that at least one ofaboard the torpedo boatseservist recalled totho mobilization. In light of the demonstrated Israelihowever, it ia difficult attribute all of the contributingto inept

(Sources: USDAO Tel Aviv8 Jun, Telecret Ho Foreign Dissera"

r Intelligence Memorandum, "The Israeli Attack on

the USSC No.OP SECRET TRUE)

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General; i

10. The findings of the Israeli Court of Inquiry generally are consonant with the conclusions made in the CIA Intelligence Memorandum. It is now known, however, that the IDF Headquarters had identifiediberty, probably more than four hours before the attack. The Israelis presumably thought the vessel they were attacking not to be the Liberty, .for it is also clear that when the initial attach tcck place the ground controllers and the pilots believed the ship toelligerent. _Inl-i

Israelis have admittedJjhat-.the_Jats-twers.ordered to. ttack the unic^Wc^^eslsel^iffi^ therefore, the Liberty was notSZKnsWStt-'flrB by'overzeaibus "pilots, acting on their own. We do j

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not Know if they bad been advised of the presence of the Liberty inthese waters. *

iuuuwn.it aw huxjj uuueu suj-ctyuaar vr. end^erroneoua;hat Israeli positions were Israeli statement that, the..Liberty could not be j<

XI. Two rather incongruous statements in the findings of the Court of Inquiry only detract frcn their explanation. The Israelis offereason for the airtanding IDF order authorizing on attack upon any ship steamingpeed abovenots if Israeli ships or shore positions In the area are being shelled. To pay the least, it is questionable military policy to authorize on attack upon an unidentified" ship based solelyadar track of overnots

being shelled. The identified because it was covered vlth smoke alsoiece" of self-serving overClearly tho smoke was the result "of the Israeli attacks."

In light of tho findings of the Israeli Court of Inquiry, we, conclude that our previous statement that "the Israelis did not identify the-LibertyS ship until some Mi minutes after- -is "inThe" Liberty had been identified prior to theyt_ the Israelis were apparently not aware that tbey were attackingLiberty. The attack was not made in malice toward the US and was bybut the "failure" of the IDF Headquarters and the attackingto identify'the"Liberty and the subsequent attack by tho torpedo boats wore both 'incongruous and Indicative of gross negligence.

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