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Israel Rings in 74th Independence Day With Jerusalem Torch-Lighting Ceremony

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Broadcast of Israel’s 74th Independence Day celebration at Mount Herzl. Photo: YouTube screenshot

After a mournful day commemorating its fallen soldiers and victims of terror, Israel kicked off its 74th Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday evening, with a festive ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem attended by government leaders, military brass, and representatives of swaths of Israeli society.

The festivities included performances from military flag-bearers, as well as star singers Raviv Kaner, Sarit Hadded, Idan Amedi, and Valerie Hamati, before thousands of audience members, among them Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, and government ministers.

In line with annual tradition, the event featured a ceremonial torch-lighting honoring citizens who hail from various segments of Israeli society. This year’s torchbearers included activists focused on disability rights, sexual violence, and troubled youth, as well as a masked, unnamed commander of the Israeli police’s counter-terrorism unit.

One of the selected torchbearers — Elizabetha Sherstock, head of the Jewish community in the Ukrainian city of Sumy — dedicated her lighting to Jewish organizations worldwide. Asael Shabo, who was injured in a Palestinian terrorist attack that killed his mother and three siblings in 2002, and who later competed on Israel’s national wheelchair basketball team, lit his in honor of paralympic athletes.

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Other participants included Munir Mahdi, the head of a pre-military preparatory school for Druze and Jewish youth; Angel Alon, who raised 217 children in foster care over nearly three decades; the parents of Shira Banki, who was fatally stabbed during the 2015 gay pride parade in Jerusalem; and renowned Israeli singer Rita.

In lieu of customary fireworks, this year’s ceremony incorporated a light show powered by drones — a move emulated by various Israeli cities, out of concern for combat veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In video remarks published Wednesday evening in honor of Independence Day, Bennett expressed confidence in Israel’s economic and security outlook. The prime minister, who oversees a diverse but precarious political alliance, also reiterated his calls for national unity, saying, “We need to view one another in a good light, to believe that the other also wants the good of the state, even if their opinion is completely different.”

Festivities will continue with a nationwide military air show on Thursday, when many Israelis are expected to visit recreational site with friends and families.

Watch clips from the Mount Herzl ceremony below:

 

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