Israel replaces Remembrance Day sorrow with joy as nation marks its 64th Independence Day. Celebrations scaled back in light of Mount Herzl tragedy
Remembrance Day sorrow replaced with Independence Day joy: Israel concluded its Memorial Day events and turned to celebrating its 64th anniversary on Wednesday evening.
Celebrations kicked off in the traditional lighting of the torches ceremony in Mount Herzl.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin lit the main torch together with Yaron and Sigalit Bezaleli, the parents of First Lieutenant Hila Bezaleli who was killed in the stage collapse incident in Mount Herzl last week.
Rivlin and Sigalit and Yaron Bezaleli light main torch (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Addressing Bezaleli’s tragic death, Rivlin said that in her joie de vivre and sense of leadership she “symbolized all that is good and noble in Israel.”
Knesset Speaker Rivlin in Mount Herzl (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
He said that in its 64th year, the people of Israel must remember that “we were and still are a generation of settlers.” He addressed the past year’s notable events including the release of Gilad Shalit from captivity and the social protest.
“I know that the State of Israel should not be taken for granted, that the Israeli flag flying over this mountain should not be taken for granted. That is why, as we face questions regarding our very existence here, we must fight fanatics, of all camps.”
He further added, “The fight against those who burn mosques is not between leftists and settlers – it’s a fight against fanatics. The struggle against those who spit in the face of an 8-year-ild is not a struggle between seculars and haredim – it’s a struggle against the fanatic fringes of society.”
Traditional state ceremony in Mount Herzl
Sigalit Bezaleli said prior to the ceremony, “I feel pride on the one hand, but on the other I see the site and have no words. I am truly divided. ”
She said that had her daughter taken part in the ceremony as she had planned “she would have been excited, proud and optimistic.”
Fireworks in Central Israel (Photo: Rachel Kaders)
After the lighting of the torches, IDF flag-bearers appeared in missing formation, without Bezaleli.
In order to prevent a second disaster, cranes were placed in order to support the platform’s lighting fixtures.
The theme of this year’s ceremony is “Water – the Source of Life.”
The ceremony usually ends with the traditional Hora dance against a backdrop of fireworks but this year it has been decided to scale back the celebrations in light of last week’s tragic accident.
On Monday, during rehearsals, a crane hit a gallery at the site. No injuries were reported.