Bad Weather Does Not Deter Israelis From Enjoying Independence Day

Thousands turned out in sweatshirts and jackets to watch the fly-past by the Israel Air Force and eat barbecues in the country's parks.

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Haaretz
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Spectators watching the air force fly-past on Independence Day.
Spectators watching the air force fly-past on Independence Day.Credit: Motti Milrod
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Haaretz

Israel's 67th Independence Day on Thursday was marked by chilly weather, a dramatic air force fly-past over most regions of the country, the traditional International Bible Contest and barbecues that were difficult to light in the wind.

In Jerusalem, President Reuven Rivlin awarded certificates of excellence to 120 officers and soldiers from all arms of the Israel Defense Forces.

"Today, our national home is secure, though our need for hope has not ended," Rivlin told the assembled members of the military. "You are the proof that the necessity to bear arms that has been forced on us is not accompanied by a loss of values.

"You bear witness that the spirit of excellence in the IDF is due not to its power but to its spirit."

Fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters of the Israel Air Force took off from a number of bases on Thursday morning for a fly-past that covered virtually the entire country, from Eilat and the Negev communities to Nahariya and Katzrin in the north.

The star of the show was the air force's acrobatic team, which put on an exciting show of skill and precision over Jerusalem, Tel Aviv a number of air force bases.

People watch from a Tel Aviv beach as Israeli Air Force CH-53 helicopters fly over. Reuters

Thousands gathered along the country's central coastal line for the aeronautic display, which, in addition to the acrobatics, featured a wide variety of aircraft, from F-15 and F-16 fighter jets to Hercules and Super Hercules transport planes and in-air fuelling craft.

Also participating in the fly-past were civilian aircraft from El Al and Arkia, which took off from the Haifa area and flew down to beyond Tel Aviv before turning east and flying over the Knesset in Jerusalem.

Revellers celebrating Independence Day, April 22, 2015. Reuters

Eyal Matas, 15, from Rehovot, was the winner of this year's annual International Bible Contest in Jerusalem, with Yisrael Elgrabli, 17, of Jerusalem, taking second place.

The quiz was held in the Jerusalem Theater, in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Jewish Agency head Natan Sharansky and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.

"Now you can go back to your homes, but come back to us, to the Land of Israel," Netanyahu told the international group of contestants after the prizes were awarded. "Make aliyah to the State of Israel. We are waiting for you."

In the Lower Galilee, several thousand people participated in a march to commemorate the Nakba (catastrophe), which is what the country's Arab citizens call the exodus of Palestinians during the War of Independence in 1948.
It was the 18th year in succession that the march has been held on Independence Day.

Israelis in Ashkelon celebrate in traditional style on Independence Day, April 23, 2015 Reuters

All the day's activities went ahead despite the unseasonally bad weather, which saw rain in many parts of the country and snow on Mt. Hermon. Temperatures were considerably lower than the average for this time of year.

With temperatures in most places 8 to 10 degrees below the seasonal average, sweatshirts and jackets were much in evidence as Israeli turned out to watch the air force fly-past and eat their traditional barbecues in the country's parks.

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