Celebrations of 64 years of Israeli independence begin with lighting of beacons at annual ceremony marking end of Memorial Day and start of Independence Day; celebrations marred by accident at the site last week in which IDF soldier Hila Bezalel was killed.
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.
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 calendar.
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.
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n what has become something of an annual tradition, comedian Benji Lovitt presents 64 things he loves about Israel. Happy Independence Day from The Times of Israel!
1. I love how Israelis can be completely indifferent to politics but will still argue about their favorite hummus place until they blow an artery.
2. I love that when I went clothes shopping, a guy let me use his dressing room even though he wasn’t done yet. I didn’t catch his waist size but he was definitely an XL gever-gever.
3. I love the “mmm-bye” farewell greeting used by certain Israelis when hanging up the phone. It’s a cross between “l’hitraot” and a Hanson song.
4. I love that after striking up a conversation with a complete stranger at the Ben-Gurion baggage claim, not only did he offer me a ride home but we also discovered that we shared over 60 mutual Facebook friends. Seriously, how are there any Jews who still don’t know each other?
5. I love that because we were unable to get home due to the Jerusalem Marathon, we agreed that our driver would drop us off somewhere else, take our luggage to his home in Ma’ale Adumim, and deliver it to us later, with not a fear in the world that it wouldn’t go exactly as planned. The guy got out of his car to bring the bag all the way to my door. Now that’s service.
. . .
12. I love that they don’t sell any of that “not kosher for Passover” matza crap here. Who the hell eats that? That’s like taking medicine labeled “Insulin: not suitable for diabetics.” . . . 15. I love that Bob Dylan played his first concert in almost 20 years here. It’s unclear which language he was mumbling in. . . . 26. I love that millions of people rallied in the streets last summer to effect change. If you don’t think cottage cheese was worth rallying over, clearly you’ve never had Israeli dairy products. . . . 35. I love that my Arab cab driver says “baruch Hashem” in Hebrew. . . . 45. I love that the Golan has good old-fashioned cowboys:
There’s not enough room in this yishuv for the both of us. (pause) B’seder, I give you hafuch, then you leave.” . . .
50. I love that there are approximately 21 million news sources from Israel all over the political spectrum, approximately 2.711 for every citizen who thinks he could run the country better than the government at any given time. . . .