Israel celebrated its 71st Independence Day today, with festive celebrations, including a ceremony at the President’s residence in Jerusalem, as well as hundreds of thousands of families across the country enjoying the Israeli tradition of gathering in national parks for barbecues.
The festivities commenced last night with the annual state ceremony on Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl, prior to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a celebratory greeting from his residence in Jerusalem. In Netanyahu’s words: “Warm regards from Jerusalem on Israel’s Independence Day, it’s a remarkable day of celebration because the Jewish people have achieved something that no other people has achieved. We are the only people that live in the same land, with the same name, speak the same language and have the same faith as we had 3,000 years ago. But what an odyssey did we undergo; such trials and tribulations and suffering and wandering. But we came back to our land and 71 years ago we reclaimed our independence. We built a state. We built an army. We built our land. We built a thriving economy that is a wonder to the entire world. We are a hub of innovation like no other. And we’ve built a democratic, free society for Jews and non-Jews alike, that is a beacon of light in the heart of the Middle East. This is what Israel is. It’s a hope among the nations and a hope for the nations. Yes, we still have antisemitism. Yes, we have those who slander us. But more and more people around the world see the truth about our achievement, about our freedom, about our hope. I know that you share this hope and you share this pride and I thank you for celebrating Israel’s Independence Day with us. Chag Sameach [Happy holiday].”
As part of the Independence Day celebrations, Israel’s Air Force conducted its traditional fly-over air show, which consisted of several types of military aircrafts and helicopters that traveled across the length of the country as a salute to the state and its citizens, and in a show of force to hostile elements across the chaotic region.
It is interesting to note that this year Israel’s population has grown to 9,021,000 people, compared to the 8,844,000 count that was recorded during last year’s Independence Day, and compared to the population of only 806,000 thousand Israelis, when the Jewish State declared its independence in 1948. As of today, 74.3 percent of Israelis are Jews, 20.9 percent are Arabs and 4.8 percent are defined as “others”.