Independence Day celebrated across the country (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST.COM STAFF, MELANIE LIDMAN 04/26/12)
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Israelis took to beaches, parks, IDF bases and held barbeques across
the country Thursday to celebrate the country´s 64th Independence Day.
The Israel Air Force treated beach-goers to a fly-over along the
beach in the Tel Aviv area. Visitors were invited into a number of
IDF bases throughout the country, and by 11 a.m., police were already
asking the public to stop arriving at parks and bases due to the high
Israelis also took to national parks and nature reserves on the
national holiday. The Parks and Nature Authority said it was
expecting hundreds of thousands of visitors. A number of parks opened
their gates with no charge for the holiday.
Wednesday night, the annual Independence Day celebration went forward
without incident despite tragedy a week ago, when a lighting rig
collapsed and killed Lt. Hila Bezaleli during rehearsals for the
event. Bezaleli was honored with two moments of silence before the
beginning of the ceremony and during the procession of the Color
Guards, where the 20-year-old medic was supposed to take part.
Bezaleli’s family sat in the front row of the audience along with
Knesset Speaker Rueben Rivlin, and Bezaleli’s mother, Sigalit, light
the central torch at the beginning of the ceremony with Rivlin.
Rivlin stressed that extremism is the biggest threat to the State of
Israel in his address marking the transition from the somber Memorial
Day to the festive Independence Day. “Conflicts show our maturity,”
he said, highlighting the fact that the country was now stable enough
to concentrate on growing and improving, and inevitability of
disagreements stemming from Israel’s growing pains. “It is not a
conflict of Jews and Arabs, or secular and religious, it is a
conflict of extremism,” he said.
The theme of Wednesday’s ceremony was Water: Source for Life. People
involved in water issues, including agriculture, desalination,
purification, water recycling, and water therapy, were honored with
lighting twelve torches on the stage. The twelve torches symbolize
the twelve tribes of Israel.
Hundreds of young dancers also performed, including a rain-themed
dance with umbrellas, dovetailing with the theme of water.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat praised the ceremony’s organizers for
finding a way to continue the ceremony despite the tragedy. “Lives
need to continue, and this ceremony is a symbol,” he told the
Jerusalem Post before the ceremony. “They understood the importance
of the ceremony, and I am proud of them, how they organized this even
with so much pain,” he said.
An investigation is still continuing into the Itzuv Bama company,
which was responsible for the stage lighting that collapsed last
week, wounding four soldiers and killing Bezaleli. Police accused the
company’s owners and engineer of “a long chain of negligence” and
added it was “negligence at the highest level [we] have ever seen.”
On Tuesday, four suspects, including the owner of the company that
built the lighting rig, Elad Lavie, the company engineer, Oren
Varshavky, the security consultant Yitzhak Zuker, and the director of
the ceremony, Alex Sela, were released to seven days house arrest. (©
1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 04/26/12)
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