On June 8, 1967, the United States Navy technical research ship USS Liberty was attacked by Israeli Air Force jet fighter aircraft and Israeli Navy motor torpedo boats with 30-mm cannons and rockets, machine guns, and torpedoes for over an hour. This Israeli attack killed 34 US Servicemen (officers, seamen, two marines) including one civilian, along with wounding 171, yet amazingly did not sink the ship. The ship sustained nearly 1,000 cannon and rocket holes—some the size of bowling balls—as well as over 5,000 armor-piercing shell holes.
Official testimony along with USS Liberty deck log say that throughout the morning of the attack, the ship was overflown, at various times by Israeli Air Force aircraft. There were also two unidentified jets (at approximately 9:00 am Sinai time) USS Liberty crewmembers say that one of the aircraft flew so close that noise from its propellers rattled the ship’s deck plating, and that the pilots and crewmembers waved to each other.
The Israelis dropped napalm on the unarmed ship, even targeting sailors who were trying to rescue the wounded and extinguish fires. The Israelis also fired on all life rafts which is classified as a war crime. Israel claimed it was ‘an accident’, a case of ‘mistaken identity’, though after they shredded one American flag, it was then replaced by another one, that was also filled with holes. Their excuses were something none of the survivors could ever believe.
There can be no question that the attackers knew that the ship was an American vessel. In fact, intercepted radio communications verified that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing. As a result, this attack with its subsequent cover-up, remains one of the greatest scandals of the twentieth century.