Israel Delays Official Reaction on ‘liberty’ Disclosures, Awaits Testimony

Officials said this weekend that pending receipt of the transcript of United States Congressional testimony here, there would be no official reaction to the disclosures in Washington that the U.S.S. Liberty, the American electronic intelligence vessel which the Israelis attacked on June 8, 1967, at the height of the Six-Day War, should not have been in the war zone and was there because of a failure of U.S. naval communications.

The disclosures were made in testimony given last April and May and made public last week by the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Much of the detail was reported withheld, apparently for security reasons. The testimony bared a series of blunders and misrouting of messages as a result of which the ship never received orders from the Pentagon to get out of the war zone. Israel was sharply condemned at the time in Congress and in the American press for attacking the ship when it failed to give a proper answer to demands for its identification. Thirty-four of its crew were killed in the attack and 75 wounded. Israel has already paid more than $3,323,500 to the families of the killed men and to the wounded. Demands were made in Congress this week that these payments be refunded to Israel since the testimony now revealed American errors were responsible for the ship’s presence in the war zone.

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