Following the fireworks, sponge hammers and foam on the eve of Independence Day, people were pulling grills out of storage and readying for ceremonies. On Tuesday morning, President Shimon Peres hosted the country’s main Independence Day celebration in Jerusalem.
The yearly event opened with an air show of combat helicopters, then Peres and IDF chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz reviewed a line of 120 outstanding service personnel. After this, the main show "Independence Songs with the President," was held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.
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Entertainer Zvika Hadar mc-ed the show, the highlights of which were duets sung by the country’s leaders with the young singers. The ‘Singing for Independence’ show had Peres sing the song "I Wish" together with Keren Peles.
Said Peres to Hadar, “I do not remember a holiday which was happier than this one. I see people who are proud of themselves and who love the nation, and it is expressed in all the newspapers. I selected the song ‘I Wish’ because the song reflects hope. Things are always good for the Jewish people, but they are never satisfied, they always strive for better.”
Soldiers and leaders (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
After Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sang the song “Prayer,” with Idan Amedi. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon showed off his musical abilities singing with Hagit Yaso and Chief-of-Staff Gantz performed a duet with Sharon Kidushin.
Peres speaks with soldier (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
After the songs, the president addressed the outstanding soldiers. “I am proud to salute you while opening the national holiday, the nation is blessed that its soldiers love it, and the nation loves them in return. A burning love, passed on from generation to generation. I am happy to see you here, showing the human and social diversity of the IDF. It is an impressive, beautiful rainbow.”
Peres and Gantz review outstanding soldiers (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
After Peres, Gantz said a few words to the soldiers. “Because of you, it is truly a happy Independence Day. An entire nation looks to you and is reminded that they can count on you."
Gantz and outstanding soldier (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
He continued, "This nation knows that in the last year we invested in the readiness of the IDF, in strengthening it and in increasing deterrence. But most important is knowing that the real Iron Dome is the wonderful group gathered here today at the President’s Residence.
Recognition ceremony (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"A group that represents the leaders of the doers, the elite of those dedicated (to Israel’s security). Dear soldiers, this meeting with you is the pinnacle of one of the most exciting, special months which I have experienced as chief of staff,” Gantz said.
Airshow over Jerusalem (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Late Tuesday afternoon, Peres will receive foreign diplomats stationed in Israel. The president’s busy day will only end in the evening, when he presents the Israel Prize for 2013, at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem. The ceremony will be shown live on Ynet, along with another traditional Independence Day event, the International Bible Contest, held at the Jerusalem Theater.
The country’s 65th Independence Day celebrations opened Monday with a torch lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Israelis then spent the night celebrating at shows and performances throughout the country.
Tuesday they were expected to throng parks, IDF bases, and other attractions open for the holiday. The Air Force’s annual air show took place in skies throughout the country starting at 10:30 am and lasted for several hours, marking 40 years since the Yom Kippur War.
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