Independence Day celebrations went into full swing on Tuesday morning, starting with a ceremony at the President's Residence in Jerusalem.
Then, around 9:40am, the Israel Air Force conducted a fly-over air show consisting of several types of planes and helicopters, which will travel the length of the country as a solute to Israel and its citizens.
For the first time this year, the fly-over featured the IAF’s new F-35s. Additional IAF planes that will be on display include C-130 (Samson) transport planes Beechcraft King Air (Tzofit) planes, Gulfstream G550 (Shavit & Eitam) planes, the Boeing 707 Reem refueling aircraft and the F-15 and F-16 fighter planes (Barak, Bezal and Ram).
A special flight of the Yasur helicopters will take place in the skies above the center and north of the country between 11:30 and 12:30, and a fleet of F-16s and new Lavi training aircraft will be held in the southern skies, from Eilat to Gvulot Junction between 11:30 and noon.
The International Bible Quiz followed at 11:30am at the Jerusalem Theater. Prime Minister Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Education Minister Naftali Bennett will all be in attendance.
The final major event of the day will be the Israel Prize ceremony at the International Conventions Center in Jerusalem on 7:30pm. Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Edelstein, Education Minister Bennett and Supreme Court Chief Justice Miriam Naor will be in attendance.
During the day, various IDF bases will be opened throughout the country for the general public with a variety of activities.
The Horon Base of the Shomron Regional Brigade will open from 10am to 6pm. The exhibit will include military vehicles such as tanks and engineering vehicles, representatives of routine security forces and covert operations teams belonging to the Nitzan fighter unit, and a display representing fire and rescue teams.
The Armored Corps Memorial Site and Museum at Latrun (Yad La-Shiryon) will open from 8:00am to 4:30pm. The program includes a multi-corps display of ground forces that will include a variety of weapons such as tanks, armored personnel carriers and cannons. In addition, active-duty soldiers will give presentations on their service in both Hebrew and English.
The Ramat David Base, located in the Jezreel Valley, will be open between 8am and 1pm. The Air Force Technical School, located near Haifa, will open from 9am to 2pm. The Tel Nof Air Force Base, located near Gedera, will open between 9am to 2pm. The Hatzerim Air Force Museum, located west of Be’er Sheva, will open during the same timeframe.
At the same time, the traditional naval flotilla parade was held in Eilat. The parade began at the Eilat naval base and will run from Eilat to the northern shore. Navy soldiers stood on deck to be greeted by applause from the celebrants on the beaches.
In addition to the bases, many IDF parking lots and training areas throughout the country will also be open throughout the day.
Earlier in the morning, the commencement of the ceremony at the President's Residence was marked by an honor military flyover of a Sikorsky UH-60A Blackhawk (Yanshuf) and two AH-64D Apache Longbow (Sharaf) helicopters.
It was followed by the traditional awarding of the Medal of Excellence to soldiers and officers of the IDF. This year, instead of the traditional 120 Medal of Excellence recipients, there will be 121, due to a counting error.
Twelve out of the 121 soldiers who will receive a certificate of excellence from the President are members of kibbutzim and lone soldiers who were 'adopted' by kibbutzim. This is the same figure as last year.
President Rivlin told the soldiers: "Our country may be small in size and depleted by natural resources, but it has big-hearted people who turn it into an empire."
"I was born nine years before the establishment of the State of Israel, but from the very first moments in Jerusalem, I felt the time of redemption was upon us. I knew that we were already a people... I knew the State of Israel will be established. There was no question about it."
Singer Shuli Natan performed at the event, singing a special rendition of Naomi Shemer's "Jerusalem of Gold," a song that made Natan famous.
Other Israeli singers also performed, including Ivri Lider, Karolina, Ron Abdan and Yuval Dayan. Military bands will also be on hand to perform, teaming up with Yoel Lerner for a new rendition of his song "Shomer HaHomot" (Guardian on the Walls).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other dignitaries were in attendance.