A 2004 transcript of an Israeli military tape published in the Jerusalem Post supports the unanimous position of the survivors and many high-ranking US officers that Israeli forces knew the USS Liberty was an American ship, as they attempted to sink it.
The Liberty was the only ship of its kind at the time, easily distinguishable for the huge satellite dishes mounted on its deck and the bristling array of antennae which served as the spy ship’s “ears.”
The survivors, and the audio tape on which the transcript is based, are presented in a new documentary which was broadcast on the Al Jazeera America channel last week. The audio tape has never been heard before by an American audience. The film “The Day Israel Attacked America” is directed and produced by British film maker Richard Belfield [mp4 at USS Liberty survivors’ website.]
Israel has long maintained, with official US government inquiries agreeing, that the attack was a case of mistaken identity. However, a growing chorus of critics, and the USS Liberty survivors themselves, say the official reports are cover-ups of an incident in which American sailors were ruthlessly, deliberately attacked in order to draw the US into war with Egypt, by blaming it for the loss of the ship with all hands. Israel was engaged in the Six Day War with Egypt and other Arab states at the time.
The attack, which commenced on June 8th, 1967 at 1:58 p.m. local time with strafing runs by Israeli Mirage jet fighters, lasted for approximately two hours, after seven to nine reconnaissance flights over the Liberty by slow-moving Israeli patrol planes beginning at 5:30 a.m. Liberty survivors are unanimous in their conviction that the attackers knew the ship was American, and that they were trying hard to sink it. Expended over the course of the attack were over 800 rounds of 30mm cannon, air-to-surface rockets, heat-seeking missiles, napalm bombs, and five torpedoes.
In the documentary, during the course of the attack, at 2:14 p.m., 16 minutes after the first strafing run begins, voices of Israeli military controllers are heard to say, as the timeline is counted in the background:
“”To what state does she belong?” (Answer): “American””
Supporting the authenticity of the tape, in 2004 the Jerusalem Post published what it said was a transcript of Israeli military transmissions directing the attack on the USS Liberty. In that transcript, at precisely the same time, 2:14pm, the exchange translated from Hebrew to English is reported:
“”Kislev, what country?” (Answer): “Apparently American.” “