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Israel Receives Congressional Testimony on ‘liberty,’ Awaits U.S. Claims Action

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Israel has received United States Congressional testimony regarding the U.S.S. Liberty, and Government officials here said the next move was up to the American Government on the question of compensation claims.

The testimony showed that a communications foul-up was responsible for the failure of the electronic spy ship to receive orders to leave the Sinai battle area during the Six-Day War. Israeli officials expressed the view that this information might be expected to result in a different American attitude on Israel’s responsibility for attacking the ship, killing 34 crew members, wounding 75 and so severely damaging the vessel that it was decided not to repair it.

Israel apologized to the U.S. for the attack and paid $3,323,500 to the families of the men killed, but no claims for the wounded or the damage have been submitted by the U.S. The State Department, which still officially holds Israel entirely responsible for the accidental June 8, 1967 attack, was studying the testimony, and officials conceded that a complicated legal issue of contributory negligence existed. It was expected here that this factor would be taken into account when Washington presents its final hill for all compensation claims. The ship was off the Sinai coast and was assaulted by Israel jets and torpedo boats which had mistaken it for an Egyptian ship when it failed to identify itself properly.

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