383. Diplomatic Note From the Israeli Ambassador (Harman) to Secretary of State Rusk1

The Ambassador of Israel presents his compliments to the Honorable the Secretary of State and has the honor to refer to the Secretary of State’s note of June 10, 1967 concerning the attack by Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats on the United States naval vessel, the U.S.S. Liberty.

The Government of Israel has instituted a full investigation into this accident and has already announced the establishment by the Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defense Forces of an Enquiry to make a full investigation of all the facts and circumstances. The Government of Israel will make available to the Government of the United States the findings of this investigation, and, for its part, hopes that the Government of the United States will make available to the Government of Israel the findings of its own investigation.

Pending the results of its investigation the Government of Israel feels it is premature to draw conclusions.

The Government of Israel recalls that as soon as it became aware of the tragic error which had occurred it immediately informed the Government of the United States of what had taken place. The Government of Israel immediately assumed responsibility for this error [Page 704] and conveyed its apologies and deep regret for what had occurred and for the grievous loss of life.

Subsequently, as mentioned in the Secretary of State’s Note of June 10, 1967 the Government of Israel took the initiative to offer to make amends for the tragic loss of life and material damage. Further, all assistance was offered by the personnel of the Israel Defense Forces to the U.S.S. Liberty. The area around the U.S.S. Liberty was immediately searched by Israel Defense Forces personnel, by plane and boat, and subsequently search efforts were renewed.

The Government of Israel has standard instructions of the most stringent nature to all its military personnel that the personnel and property of the United States, as of all other countries not involved in hostilities, shall not be endangered. These instructions have been renewed.

The Government of Israel notes that the incident occurred in an area which the United Arab Republic had warned neutral vessels to avoid, as it was an area of hostilities. It would be appreciated if the Government of Israel could be given timely information of the approach of United States vessels to shores where the Israel Defense Forces are in authority.

The Government of Israel renews its readiness to make amends and has instructed the Ambassador of Israel to reiterate its profound regret for the consequences of what was admittedly a tragic error.

The Ambassador of Israel avails himself of this opportunity to renew to the Honorable the Secretary of State the assurances of his highest regard.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 27 ARAB–ISR. No classification marking. The note is a revised version of Document 267. The note is filed, together with Document 352, and a covering memorandum of July 20 from Walsh to Walt Rostow stating that they constituted the true, corrected versions of the exchange and that all other copies should be destroyed.