Celebrations of Israel's 74th Independence Day began at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl late Wednesday with a traditional torch-lighting ceremony and at full-scale after two years of celebrations being scaled back due to the pandemic.
The ceremony began with a speech by Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy, who said that in Israel's 74 years, its citizens have achieved "countless highs and lows".
"We Israelis connect the many shades of us all to one human fabric, to the Israeli society that fills the hearts of us all. Determined and mission-laden, who repeatedly do the impossible against all odds."
Among those given the honor to light the ceremonial torches this year were Mika and Uri Banki - whose 16-years-old daughter Shira was murdered in 2015 while attending the Pride Parade in Jerusalem; Edan Kleiman - the head of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization; And Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yoram Yair - the chairman of the "Yahad" organizations dedicated to aiding IDF soldiers and the "Aharai" youth education organization.
Other honorary torch lighters include "H" - the commander of Israel's National Counter Terror Unit, who will ight the torch in disguise in order to protect his identity; As well as Rita Yahan-Farouz, one of Israel's most renowned and acclaimed singers.
Israel's 74th Independence Day celebrations were attended by thousands of people after last year saw a crowd of no more than 700, which itself was a massive change from 2020's event that barred crowds from attending altogether due to stringent COVID restrictions.
This year's firework displays have been cancelled over concerns by some military veterans who say the cracking and banging dredges up the horrors of battle, especially among those suffering from PTSD.
As always, Independence Day -- which takes place Thursday on May 5th -- will be packed with events that last throughout the day.
At 10:30am, the annual International Bible Quiz will be held in Jerusalem with the participation of the president, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, as well as other dignitaries.
The quiz will be followed by the annual IAF flyover across the entire country, a popular event that sees Israelis flock to the beach and other open areas to enjoy the yearly sight.
First published: 19:55, 05.04.22