Anonymous asked in Politics & GovernmentMilitary · 10 years ago

Why did Israel try to sink the USS liberty?

many high ranking officials believe they attacked it on purpose.

13 Answers

  • kismet
    Lv 7
    10 years ago
    Best Answer

    Israel DID NOT try to sink the USS Liberty.

    Ten official U.S. inquiries and three Israeli inquiries concluded that the attack was a tragic case of mistaken identity. No American ships were supposed to be in the area.

    Egyptian warships were believed to be in the area. Large explosions were taking place along the Sinai shore, and Israeli troops believed they were under naval bombardment. Israeli pilots and sailors, in the midst of the '67 war swirling on three fronts, raced to attack what they believed to be an Egyptian ship.

    For 33 years Israel's detractors have attempted to use the tragic incident as a wedge between the United States and Israel. Other than some of the embittered Liberty crew and die-hard conspiracy theorists, the charge that Israel deliberately attacked a ship of its most important ally found few takers.

    One important top-secret NSA document in the U.S. National Archives is entitled "Attack on the USS Liberty" (SRH-256). The 77-page brief, declassified in 1983, concludes: "Reexamination of Israel's explanation of why its air and naval forces attacked the Liberty reveals egregious errors in both command judgments and operational procedures."

    Egregious errors, yes. Deliberate murder, no!

  • 10 years ago

    Mark F pretty much nailed the chain of events and how the institutional lack of discipline and professionalism in the IDF of 1967 doomed the USS Liberty, not a deliberate act of aggression against the United States. In my experience the people who still claim this was a deliberate (but strangely botched) attempt by Israel to sink a ship they knew all along was American tend to come from 2 points of view. They are either staunchly anti-Isreal so use this incidence for political purposes or are emotionally attached to it and therefore unwilling or unable to look at what happened rationally and dispationately - or both.

    The idea that Israel would deliberately attack an American ship with the intent to sink her and then not sink her just doesn't fly. There is no plausible motive and it doesn't explain why both attacking forces called off their attacks once they had positively identified the ship, and even offered assistance. The facts support a "friendly fire" incident, nuff said.

  • Mutt
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    The official story is that it was a case of mistaken identy. It was during the Six Day War, adn Israel mistook it for an enemy warship.

    But, like all other questionable acts, there are many people that don't believe the official report and think there were other reasons. If you talk to 20 of these people, you probably will get 20 different stories as to why it happened. Not much different than the USS Maine incident that started the Spanish-American War.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    It was an intentional attack. Israel knew the US knew they were the aggressors in the 6 day war, and if that was released to the world, support for Israel's cause would diminish. They did try to sink the ship - the torpedo was intended to hit the engineering spaces, which would have caused the boilers to explode, and the ship would have further exploded and sunk, most likely with all hands lost - that was their intent - to ensure no one knew they were the aggressors against Egypt! However, when the ship was modified, the engineering spaces were moved aft, and in their place were the communications & operations spaces. The torpedo hit on a bulkhead separating the two spaces, causing significant damage and loss of life, but not sinking the ship. LBJ wanted to tear Israel a new one, but was convinced by his advisors not to, and the coverup began - and continues to this day.

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  • 4 years ago

    Capt McGonagle of the U.S.S Liberty said he didn't believe this was a mistaken identity. Capt. Joe Tully said that he sent two strike forces to assist the Liberty, and he was told to call them back by the sixth Fleet but he didn't know who gave the command. Several crew members said they saw the Israeli pilots in the cockpit,so they were too close not to know this was an American ship. The first Israeli pilot was quoted as saying it was an American ship and he wouldn't fire, so he was called back and jailed. Because the U.S does do false flags such as 9/11, Gulf Of Tonkin, Operation Northwoods (was an attempt, but Kennedy wouldnt go along with it). The U.S govt just is not to be believed anymore. Too many lies to her own people, and this list is kept short on purpose.

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    The United States and Israel agreed it was a mistake on Israel's part. Who are the many high ranking officials who believe it was on purpose?

    • Captain Ward Boston, USN, JAG (Ret.) -

  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    Israel was at war and when they asked the US if it had any naval assets in the area, the response was negative. Since the Arabs had previously used falsely flagged ships to land military supplies and assets, then the Israelis reached the only reasonable conclusion with that info - that it was an Arab ship flying a false flag.

    They would have had absolutely no rational reason for wanting to puposely attack a US vessel.

  • 10 years ago

    They didn't want the US to know that they were launching a pre-emptive strike on the Arab nations. It was easier to sink an unarmed American naval vessel than having to explain their preemptive strike against their Arab neighbors to the world.

  • Mark F
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    U.S. 6th Fleet had directed the USS Liberty to operate 100 miles off the coast of Egypt. NSA countermanded that order and told USS Liberty to operate just 12 miles off the Sinai coast in a lane not used by commercial shipping & declared off-limits by Egypt (meaning only Egyptian warships were likely to be found there). U.S. 6th Fleet did not inform Israel (or Egypt for that matter) of Liberty's presence in theater in spite of Israeli requests to exchange such information. Regardless, at around 8:00am on 6/8/67 an IDF patrol aircraft spotted the Liberty and reported her hull number GTR-5 to IDF Naval HQ. About an hour later she was positively identified as an American neutral ship and marked as a nuetral ship on the manual plotting table with a wooden model (this was 1967 - no computerized plotting here). At 11:00am the shift changed at IDF Naval HQ and the new crew, ASSUMING the neutral ship had moved on REMOVED HER FROM THE PLOTTING BOARD without bothering to CONFIRM she had in fact moved on. So, while it is true the IDF had positively identified the Liberty prior to the attack, everyone in Israel who knew what and where she was had now not gone to bed. This by the way represents an appalling lack of attention to proper procedure, the kinds of thing any other navy takes for granted and is inexcusable.

    A half-hour later IDF reservists in the Sinai coastal town of El Arish reported being attacked by a ship. The report was probably erroneous - typical fog-of-war stuff - but the plotting board showed no nuetral or friendly ships in the area. To make matters worse both sides had reported naval shelling in the same area the previous day. So the Isreali's assumed ANY ship in the area was the cause of this shelling. A flottilla of 3 Motor Torpedo Boats was sent to intercept. As they approached the USS Liberty had by coincidence reached the end of her "racetrack" patrol pattern and turned about, back towards Egypt. The MTB commander assumed this was an Egyptian ship turning to run for home. Unable to catch the"fleeing" enemy vessel air support was called in from the IDF Air Force and a flight each of Super-Mystere and Mirage aircraft on a ground-attack mission were diverted to this effort. None of these pilots had any training whatsoever in ship recognition or martime attack and were not even armed properly for maritime strike, The Mirage's having only their internal 30mm Aden guns and air-to-air missiles and the Super Mystere's having guns and Napalm bombs, not the unguided rockets and heavy delayed-action high-explosive bombs that one would use if they were planning to attack a ship. The Mirage's arrived first, took a couple of passes at 3,000 feet altitude, saw no Israeli markings on the ship and therefore identified it as Egyptian, probably a Hunt or Z class destroyer. The pilots were wrong in their ID but this was not their fault. They did the best they could with what they had to work with. At around 1:58pm the aircraft were cleared to attack, which they did, in attacks lasting about 14 minutes until one of the pilots finally recognized Latin, not Arabic markings on the now burning ship, radioed the information to IDF Air Force HQ and the attack was called off. The information about the ships ID was then passed to IDF Naval HQ but this was 1967, there was a war going on and the IDF communications system was World War 2 surplus. Because of the massive flow of information over limited channels it would be more than 2 hours before the Navy knew what the Air Force now knew, that USS Liberty was not an Egyptian ship.

    Some 25 minutes later those Motor Torpedo Boats approached the burning Liberty from astern and flashed a recognition signal, to which they recieved back a vague reply and an unauthorized burst of 0.50 caliber machine gun fire. As far as the MTB commander was concerned this was confirmation the ship in front of them was Egyptian so he attacked, starting at around 2:45pm with old Italian WW2 surplus 17.7" torpedo's, 20mm and 40mm guns. At right around 3:00pm while circling the Libety one of the MTB's made out the hull number "GTR-5" in Latin, ordered a cease-fire and offered assistance to the USS Liberty - which was refused.

    This incident was the sort of friendly-fire incident that happens in just about every war, not unlike when the USS Vincennes identified an Iranian commercial airliner as an F-14 fighter jet and shot it down, killing 290 people, or when American A-10's in Operation Desert Storm mistook British Army Warrior fighting vehicles for Iraqi BMP's and attacked them, causing around a dozen casualties as I recall. In the Liberty incident there is plenty of blame to go around on both sides but the biggest single cause was the appalling lack of adherence to proper procedure at IDF Naval HQ in removing the Liberty from the plot table without confirming she had moved-on. Absolutely inexcusable, but not criminal.

  • Kevin7
    Lv 7
    10 years ago

    it was not intentional, it was a mistake,military forces like people can make big mistakes

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