A video of USS Liberty in Malta’s Grand Harbour after being attacked by the Israeli in International Waters during the Six day Arab-Israeli War.

During the Six-Day War back in 1967,  Israeli jets and torpedo boats attacked the American intelligence ship USS Liberty. This attack led to a number of conspiracy theories with various historians trying to understand why Israel had hit an American ship. One theory is that this was done to put the blame on Egypt so that America could join the war on behalf of Israel. Another theory is that the USS Liberty was spying on Israel. The real motive is still not clear to the present day. What was of serious concern was that in this war, Israel’s Arab neighbours were being supported by the Soviet Union. The American media received information that the USS Liberty had been targeted by Israeli jet fighters and Israel ended up paying compensation and indemnity to the families of the Americans who died in this attack, which saw 34 Americans dead and 171 wounded.


Israel’s Prime Minister at the time was Levi Eshkol. The Mossad chief was Meir Amir and the Defence Minister was Moshe Dayan, while the Chief-of-staff was Yitzhak Rabin. Dayan has been credited by some historians as the mastermind behind this attack but the debate is still ongoing whether this was a deliberate attack or a genuine mistake.


This attack was kept under wraps both by Israel and the USA. The survivors were given strict orders not to speak a word about what happened and those who, years later,  dared to speak up were accused of being anti-Semites. However, historians and journalists continue to show interest in this story and despite any gag orders, the discussion is still ongoing.  Historians are still seeking more information.

But where does Malta come into this narrative? After the attack, the USS Liberty came to Malta. There is even a silent film of the ship entering the Grand Habour which I am sharing here. She was taken to the Malta Drydocks for repairs. The torpedo hole was massive. As dockyard workers started repair works, they found the sealed compartment littered with body parts; 68 bags were used and the body parts were taken to be incinerated. 

Working on repairing the ship were 300 Maltese besides Americans and some others. The Maltese workers worked two shifts per day, 7 days a week. The USS Liberty was so beautifully repaired that when she arrived back in her home port, it seemed that nothing had happened to the ship. In fact, the American Press had nothing to write about the extensive damage to the ship as it was no longer visible.

This story also became the subject of a documentary prepared by Al Jazeera.


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