Israel Celebrates its 74th Independence Day

On Thursday, Israel was celebrating its 74th Independence Day as people were engaging in barbecues at nature sites, beaches, parks and other open spaces and enjoying other festivities. In the morning as well as in the early afternoon, people also enjoyed the annual highlight of the AirForce aircraft that flew over most of the country, which is considered an iconic and popular feature of Israel’s celebrations. The flyover includes a Lavi training aircraft, a Boeing refueling plane, C-130 cargo planes, Israel Aerospace Industries Heron drones, F-35, F-16 and F-15 fighter jets and Sea Stallion, Black Hawk, Apache and Panther helicopters. This is the first time that IAI drones are part of the flyover.

A flyby was also added by the military this year over the city of Hebron in the West Bank and the settlement Kiryat Arba. This is the first time that the flyover is occurring over the area, but is not the first for all communities in the West Bank. According to the IDF, this was not to make a political statement but had more to do with the size of the community. Some of the other events for Independence Day included Jerusalem’s annual International Bible Quiz. It now has a new host named Ofer Hadad, after the retirement of Avshalom Kor, the Hebrew language aficionado and the longtime stalwart. 

The IDF will once more open its major bases for visitors this year, which is its annual tradition that had been suspended in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the bases that will be open to the public include the Tel Nof base in the center of Israel and the Ramat David base in the north. The 2022 Israel Prize award ceremony will cap the festivities in the country. Some of the people being honored include Oded Kotler, playwright, director and actor for dance and theater and Prof. Yoram Palti for technological innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised the spirit that has helped in transforming Israel from just a small country in a desert into a technological leader. He said that its story was of human spirit, hope and survival against all odds. He said that they hadn’t lost their humanity, regardless of who had tried to dehumanize them and they had not been defeated by those who had tried to destroy them. On Wednesday evening, Israel had made the transition to celebratory joy from grave heartache for ushering in the 74th Independence Day.

During Memorial Day, solemn events had been marred by some political disputes. Mickey Levy, the Knesset Speaker gave a speech at Mount Herzl to mark the beginning of the Independence Day. He said that the transition between the two days is tough, but they manage it all the same. He added that they do not let any division interfere. Others also made similar calls of unity, which included those from Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and President Isaac Herzog. Bennett said that Israel could handle outside threats, but internal polarization was still a menace for them. 

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