Israel celebrates independence: With the conclusion of Memorial Day at sundown Tuesday, at 8:00 p.m. the nation launched its 58th Independence Day celebrations with a torch-lighting ceremony at the Mount Herzl plaza in Jerusalem.
Speaking at the ceremony, Shimon Peres said: "I call on those near and far, on the Palestinians and the rulers of Arab countries that have not yet signed peace treaties with us, lay down your weapons."
Happy Birthday Israel! Official ceremony in Jerusalem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"I call on all Muslim nations to let go the hostility," he said. "There are still existential dangers…there are those who want to exterminate us."
"In its 58th year, despite crises and difficulties, the country is still a wonder in the eyes of nations when it comes to its abilities, achievements, and unique qualities," Peres said. "We, the citizens of Israel, should be looking back with immense satisfaction at what we have done. (We should) expect the future with hope, we shouldn't stop dreaming and we shouldn't stop creating."
"We have who to be proud in and what to be proud of, "he said.
Preparing for traditional barbecue (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
This year, the torch-lighting ceremony will be held under the theme “The development of the Negev and Galilee.” Each of the torch-bearers, who were selected by a public committee, have made a contribution towards the settlement of the Negev and Galilee and are being honored for doing so.
The torch-bearers are: Maj.-Gen. (Reserves) Doron Almog, Eli Alalof, Yehudit Dekel, Dorit Almaliach, Shmuel Ben Shalom, Professor Shaul Shasha, Sarah Hatan, Ruth Kaplan, Natasha Liametz, Zachariah Liraz-Feldman, Steph Wertheimer, Dr. Esther Luzzatto, and Jamila Khir.
All contributed to the development of the Galilee and Negev in various ways, ranging from establishing medical centers there to organizing cultural festivals.
Meanwhile, the country’s top entertainers will be performing on stages across the country, and on Wednesday a number of IDF bases and the Supreme Court building will open for visitors and tours for the occasion. Parks and forests are expected to be crowded with Israelis celebrating the holiday in the traditional way: Barbecuing meat and other delicacies on the grill.
Others who prefer to celebrate the holiday at home, can watch the Jewish youth bible quiz and the Israel Prize award ceremony.