289. Telegram From the Defense Attache Office in Israel to the White House 1

0892. Ref DAO Tel Aviv 0886 Jun 67.2 Subject Liberty Incident.

Commodore Shlomo Erell, Commander in Chief IDF Navy, asked ALUSNA to call upon him early evening 14 June. Commodore presented apologies and expressions of regret in regard Liberty incident to the U.S. Navy on behalf of Israeli Navy and said he was preparing letter to CNO USN. He said incident was great mistake: that IDF Navy personnel involved felt “terrible” and that the incident in fact spoiled all feeling of victory of IDF Navy in recent hostilities.
Erell stated he did not want to comment on elements of incident until the Israeli court of inquiry had rendered findings. When asked if those findings would be transmitted to the United States the commodore said he presumed they would be.
As in every case when Israeli officer mentions the incident Commodore Erell remarked on how close Liberty was to shore line. ALUSNA replied that Liberty was in international waters.

Comment: A. Commodore Erell was obviously very discomforted by need for and fact of meeting with ALUSNA which might be part of explanation why there was so long a delay between event and first official IDF Navy presentation of apologies.

B. The U.S. Ambassador has been informed in other channels that Israel court of inquiry will probably complete its actions on 16 June.

Coordinated with Embassy.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Liberty. Confidential. Also sent to OSD, CNO, Department of State, COMSIXTHFLT, CINCSTRIKE, CINCUSNAVEUR, JCS, DIA, USUN, CINCEUR/USEUCOM, CTG 60.2, USAFE, CINCUSAREUR, and CTG 60.
  2. Telegram 0886 from USDAO Tel Aviv reported that Bloch informed Castle on June 13 that General Rabin had appointed an official court of inquiry in the Liberty incident. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR)