On the Eve of the 62nd Independence Day:
7,587,000 Residents in the State of Israel
As it does every year before Independence Day celebrations begin, the State of Israel remembered its fallen soldiers on Israel Memorial Day, which fell this year on Sunday, the 4th of Iyar/April 18th. The day opened with the sounding of the siren and ceremonies that were held throughout the country. The main ceremony, with the participation of President Shimon Peres and the IDF Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
A total of 22,682 soldiers have fallen in Israel's wars from 1860 until April 15th, 2010. 111 soldiers have fallen since last year's Memorial Day. The year 1860 was chosen as the starting point for counting the fallen soldiers, as that was the year in which the first Jewish residents settled outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem and founded a Jewish neighborhood. 2,431 civilians have been killed in acts of hostility since the end of the War of Independence (January 1st, 1950) until the present. This number includes 118 foreign citizens, tourists, and workers who were killed in terrorist attacks.
For years, KKL-JNF has worked together with bereaved families to build sites dedicated to the memories of fallen soldiers in its forests throughout the country. The sites, which include lookout points, recreation areas and forest groves, serve as places where people can commemorate the memories of those who sacrificed their lives for their country so that others may continue to live. The sites are places where people can remember the fallen, learn about their story and heritage, and commune with the land and nature.
Dozens of projects have been built throughout the country, many of them with the help of friends of KKL-JNF worldwide. The most recent of these are the many scenic lookouts built in the north in memory of soldiers who fell in the Second Lebanon War. These unique sites include the Aseret HaAchim (Ten Brothers) Recreation Area built in memory of ten soldiers from the Golani Brigade who fell in a heroic battle against terrorists in Bint Jbil in Lebanon. KKL-JNF's Israel Fundraising Department is currently building the Eagles Scenic Lookout in memory of two helicopter pilots, Colonel Tzvika Luft and Lieutenant Tom Farkash
, who were killed when their helicopter fell near Kerem Ben Zimra in the upper Galilee during the Second Lebanon War. Many eagles nest in the region, and there are plans for building a visitors center that will be dedicated to restoring the eagle population and returning them to nature.
In honor of Israel's 62nd Independence Day, the National Bureau of Statistics published its annual report. Here are some of this year's figures:
• When the State of Israel was established, its population numbered 806,000. Today, the population of Israel numbers 7,587,000 residents.
• Israel's Jewish population numbers 5,726,000 – 75.5% of the population. The Arab population numbers approximately 1,548,000 (20.4% of the population). The remainder of the population, which is made up of immigrants and their children who are not listed as Jews by the Ministry of Interior, numbers approximately 313,000 residents, or 4.1% of the population.
• Since last year's Independence Day, 159,000 babies were born in Israel, while 37,000 persons died. 16,000 new immigrants arrived during the past year. 9,000 were added to the population as "immigrant citizens" or came within the framework of family reunification. On the other hand, approximately 10,000 people were subtracted from the population due to Israeli emigration, which is defined as people who left the country and stayed abroad for more than one year.
• The total population of Israel has increased by 137,000 residents since last Independence Day – an increase of 1.8%.
• More than 70% of the Jewish population are "sabras" – native-born Israelis. More than half of them are at least second-generation in the country, as opposed to 35% of the population in 1948 who were native-born.
• In 1948, Tel Aviv-Yaffo was the only city in which there were more than 100,000 residents. Today there are 14 cities that have more than 100,000 residents, while six cities boast a population of more than 200,000: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv-Yaffo, Haifa, Rishon Letzion, Ashdod, and Petach-Tikva.
Throughout its 109 years of existence, KKL-JNF has worked to preserve and develop the country for its residents and the entire Jewish People, as well as for future generations. Projects built by KKL-JNF with the help of its friends throughout the world on behalf of man and the environment can be seen everywhere.
This year's Independence Day celebrations also mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Herzl. KKL-JNF marked Herzl's 150th birthday at the building in Basil where he declared the establishment of a Jewish State and the founding of Keren Kayemet LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund. The event was attended by KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler
and heads of the Jewish communities in Europe, along with Jewish delegations from throughout the world.
KKL-JNF has made preparations at all its sites to receive the hundreds of thousands of visitors who will celebrate Israel's 62nd Independence Day in the country's forests and recreation areas, enjoying nature and feeling the connection with the land. Vacationing at KKL-JNF sites throughout the country has been made possible thanks to the generous contributions of Friends of KKL-JNF in Israel and throughout the world
, for preserving, developing, and rehabilitating many diverse projects in the parks, forests, recreation areas and scenic lookouts.
Some of the sites that will be open to the public on Independence Day include:
American Independence Park, British Park, Ben Shemen Park, Canada
Ayalon Park, and the Aminadav Forest in Israel's Central Region; Biria
Forest, Adamit Park, the Bar'am Forests, Switzerland Forest, and the
Hula Lake Park in the north; Yatir Forest, Angels Forest, Lahav
Forest, Golda Park, Ofakim Park and Holland Park in the south.
Among the special events that KKL-JNF will be holding on Independence
Day is an exhibition of giant blue boxes created by Israeli artists
inspired by the traditional blue box. The exhibition will be held in
the Tel Aviv port. In Aminadav Forest, KKL-JNF will host a special
tree planting ceremony for participants in the International Bible
Additional details about Independence Day events and tours are available at the KKL-JNF website: www.kkl.org.il/eng
Happy Independence Day!
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