The year is 1967, the day, the 8th of June. The Six Day War between Israel and surrounding Arabs nations is raging as little Israel pushes away the Arabs, taking land for themselves. The Israeli offensive in the Sinai Peninsula was going well and the Egyptians were being steamrolled. Off the coast sits the USS Liberty, a spy ship tasked with intercepting Soviet, Arab, and other messages that may be of interest to the United States. Her presence was unrelated to the war raging onshore not too far away.
Many of her crewmembers had joined the Navy, hoping to escape the horrors of the Vietnam War; unbeknownst to them, they had actually ran into danger and were not at all safe. That danger came on the aforementioned date.
For the Liberty, the day was quiet one, but not for long. In the afternoon the Liberty was attacked by Israeli aircraft via rockets, cannon fire, machine guns, and even napalm. The ship’s communication were jammed so no help was able to be acquired. Life rafts that had been dropped should the ship sink were machine gunned as well. 35 minutes after several waves of aircraft attacks, three torpedo boats gave the Liberty their opinion of the ship. Luckily only one torpedo (five were launched) made it to the Liberty’s hull, but it did its damage. Once the attack was over, 34 American sailors were dead and 172 injured, a casualty rate of 70 percent.
–Help finally arrives
The survivors kept quiet for over 30 years out of fear of repercussions they might have faced once they came forward. Gradually they did though, and now have been leading the way for a proper investigation into the incident which they say has yet to be done.
Israel apologized for the attack, claiming it was a case of mistaken identity. Compensation was paid and the story turned into an obscure fact of the 60s. The official explanation from Israel stated that the aircraft were looking for the Egyptian ship, the El Quseir. The problem is, the El Quseir was a decommissioned and old craft, significantly smaller than the USS Liberty. Survivors of the viscious attack stated that the flag was wildly flapping in the wind as well, and was a rather large flag, so to not be able to notice that is suspicious. But there is of course more. The USS Liberty has white identification numbers on its side; Egyptian ships had black numbers.
If those inconsistencies aren’t bad enough, testimonies from the survivors don’t make the story any better. According to one survivor, the torpedo boats were followed up by Israeli helicopters armed to the teeth with machine guns.
We know Israel has very few concerns when it comes to attacking and exploiting her allies as can be seen with the Balfour Declaration and the Lavon Affair. But why would the Israelis deliberately attack an American ship? It seems they had nothing to gain by doing that, so why would they? We can’t be entirely sure but one theory rests on the idea that Israeli war crimes had been committed or were going to be committed at El Arish where the survivors claim hundreds of Egyptian soldiers were executed and put in a mass grave. The grave is said to have been discovered in 1995. Though proper evidence may not have been put forward, it isn’t hard to picture Israel doing so as they attack their own allies and make the lives of Palestinians and citizens of the Gaza strip a living hell.
Another theory says that the president at the time, Lyndon B. Johnson, was behind the attack to create a false flag that would allow the United States to intervene in the Six Day War. The survivors do claim that rescue aircraft were sent shortly after the attack began but were called back afterward by the White House but I could not validate that claim. The coverup that occurred afterward was certainly suspicious though, but that could have just been neo-conservativism rearing its ugly head as it endlessly covers for Israel.
Whatever the case may be, it is extremely hard to believe the Israeli aircraft did not notice that the ship was American. The evidence presented by eyewitness testimony and other sources are especially damning.
We can add the USS Liberty Incident to our list of wrongs Israel has committed against America. There’s plenty more that happened later as well as a few incidents of speculation that happened before this, like the Apollo Affair. If however you are still not convinced, I suggest you watch this meeting held by the survivors of the ship where they expand on what has been discussed in this article.