After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis finally halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. This same torpedo boat crew had been circling the ship, machine-gunning anyone who stuck his head above decks, as well as the lifeboats the crew had put over the side.

What had changed? The Israeli government knew that US aircraft carriers had just launched aircraft to come to Liberty's aid and the attack was quickly called off. The Israeli government called the US Embassy and said that they had made a "mistake."

A torpedo boat officer asked in English over a bullhorn: "Do you need any help?"

The wounded commander of the Liberty, Captain William McGonagle, instructed the quartermaster to respond emphatically: "Fuck you."