Israel marks 64th Independence Day (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Ophir Bar-Zohar and Oz Rosenberg 04/26/12)
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Celebrations of 64 years of Israeli independence kicked off on
Wednesday night with the lighting of beacons at the official ceremony
at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem, which also marks the
conclusion of Memorial Day.
The official ceremony was marred by the fateful accident at the site
last week, in which 20-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, 2nd
Lt. Hila Bezaleli, was killed when a lighting rig collapsed during
rehearsals for the Independence Day ceremony. Bezaleli´s family were
present at the ceremony on Wednesday.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin lit the first torch in the ceremony
with Bezaleli´s parents, Sigalit and Yaron Bezaleli. The theme of
the 2012 ceremony was "Water as a source of life."
In his opening address, Rivlin recalled Bezaleli, and said that she
symbolized the good in Israel.
Rivlin went on to mention the protests against the high cost of
living that swept Israel last summer, saying that the past year had
revealed an Israel "that cares more."
"We´ve seen a glimpse of a bright Israeli future," he said.
Rivlin also recalled the public debates over the exclusion of women
from the public sphere that have taken place over the past year, and
invited all sectors of Israeli society - Arabs, Jews, relgious, and
secular - to work together for Israel´s future.
Israelis bear the responsibility for the success and future of the
country, he said.
Israel declared statehood on May 14, 1948, a day before the expiry of
Britain´s United Nations-mandate over historic Palestine. It
traditionally celebrates Independence Day according to the Jewish
According to figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on
the eve of Israel´s 64th Independence Day on Tuesday, the country´s
population stood at 7.881 million. At its establishment, the
population of Israel was 806,000.
Earlier on Wednesday, at 11 A.M., a two-minute siren sounded
throughout the country to mark Memorial Day, followed by ceremonies
at Israel´s 43 military cemeteries.
On Thursday, Independence Day, Defense Ministry museums and military
bases will be open to the public, and the Israeli air force will
conduct flyovers over cities and other sites across the country.
How are you spending Israel Independence Day 2012? Visit Haaretz.com
on Facebook and share your views.
The annual international Bible competition will be held in Jerusalem
on Thursday, and the Israel Prize ceremony will be held in the
capital in the evening.
Israelis are expected to throng to the country´s national parks to
celebrate on Thursday. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz 04/26/12)
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