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ON JUNE 8, 1967, THE AIR AND NAVAL FORCES OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL conducted a brutal three-hour attack on a barely armed U.S. intelligence vessel. Israeli jets strafed the ship; torpedo boats launched their deadly projectiles at the stricken ship. The life rafts were machine-gunned. “No survivors” was the order from Israeli military officials. When the attack was over, 34 American sailors and Marines were dead and 171 gravely wounded.
“Mistaken identity,” Israel cried, as the American public was kept completely in the dark about the incident. But the Liberty was easily identifiable that clear day. Some of the Israeli pilots, seeing that the ship was an American “ally” vessel, broke off their strafing runs. They were ordered to renew their deadly attacks. But Liberty would not go down. She limped home listing badly to one side.