The official Independence Day ceremony in Mount Herzl, Jerusalem
The official Independence Day ceremony in Mount Herzl, Jerusalem Photo by Tali Mayer
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Israel's 65th Independence Day celebrations kicked off Monday 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.

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.

"It's been 65 years that Israel has been celebrating its birthday, but its existence isn't a given," Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein said in his speech. "For 65 years Israel has been celebrating its independence, and still there are those that would not acknowledge its very existence - acknowledge us. We have struggled for our right to exist. We stand vigilant to defend the country we established."

Earlier on Monday, 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. A state ceremony for fallen troops took place at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem at 11 A.M., while a state ceremony for victims of terror attacks took place there at 1 P.M.

According to figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on the eve of Independence Day on Sunday, the country's population stood at 8,018,000 residents. At its establishment, Israel's population was 806,000.

On Tuesday, 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. Israelis are expected to throng to the country's national parks to celebrate.