233. Telegram From the Defense Attaché Office in Israel to the White House1
0845. At 09/1300Z the IDF Assistant Army Spokesman Lt Col Michael Bloch telephoned to ALUSNA following seven points as “Further information on yesterday’s incident with the American ship.”
- Ship was sighted and recognized as a naval ship 13 miles from coast.
- Presence in a fighting area is against international custom.
- The area is not a common passage for ships.
- Egypt had declared the area closed to neutrals.
- Liberty resembles the Egyptian supply ship El Quseir.
- Ship was not flying flag when sighted. She moved at “high speed” westward toward enemy coast.
- IDF Navy had earlier reports of bombardment of El-Arish from sea.
Comment: 1. At first Col Bloch merely read off seven points. ALUSNA pressed him for a label for the statement asking if this were an official explanation of incident. Col Bloch could not supply a preamble on his own and ALUSNA requested he consult with some authority who could. Bloch called back in two minutes with the above quoted heading.
2. While El Quseir bears a highly superficial resemblance to Liberty, ALUSNA can not understand how trained professional naval officers could be so inept to carry out yesterday’s attack. Certainly IDF Navy must be well drilled in identification of Egyptian ships. El Quseir is less than half the size; is many years older, and lacks the elaborate antenna array and hull markings of Liberty.
3. ALUSNA evaluates yesterday’s erroneous attack resulted from trigger happy eagerness to glean some portion of the great victory being shared by IDF Army and Air Force and in which Navy was not sharing.
- Source: Naval Security Group Files, Box 896, USS Liberty Pre-76 Inactive Files, Box 1, U.S.S. Liberty, 5750/4, Chronological Message File. Secret; Immediate; Priority. Sent also to OSD, CNO, DEPT STATE, COMSIXTHFLT, CINCSTRIKE, CINCNAVEUR, and JCS. Repeated to DIA, USUN, CINCEUR-USEUCOM, CTG SIX ZERO PT TWO, USAFE, CINCUSAREUR, and CTG SIX ZERO. Received at the Department of the Navy at 1925Z.↩