Independence service performed despite tragedy

Mother of soldier killed in stage collapse lights torch at Independence Day ceremony.

April 27, 2012 04:44
2 minute read.
Soldiers march at Mt. Herzl on Independence Day

Soldiers march at Mt. Herzl on Independence Day 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The annual Independence Day ceremony at Mount Herzl went forward without incident on Wednesday evening despite last week’s tragedy, when a lighting rig collapsed and killed Lt. Hila Bezaleli during rehearsals for the event.

Bezaleli was honored with two moment of silences – at the beginning of the ceremony and during the procession of the Color Guards, which the 20-year-old medic planned to attend.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

Bezaleli’s family sat in the front row of the audience along with Knesset Speaker Rueven Rivlin, and Bezaleli’s mother, Sigalit, lighted the central torch with Rivlin as the ceremony started.

In the address marking the transition from the somber Memorial Day to the festive Independence Day, Rivlin said that extremism is the biggest threat to the State of Israel.

“Conflicts show our maturity,” he said, highlighting the fact that the country was now stable enough to concentrate on growing and improving, and inevitability of disagreements stemming from Israel’s growing pains.

“It is not a conflict of Jews and Arabs, or secular and religious, it is a conflict of extremism,” Rivlin said.

The theme of Wednesday’s ceremony was entitled “Water: Source for Life.”

Israelis involved in water issues, including agriculture, desalination, purification, water recycling, and water therapy, were honored with lighting twelve torches on the stage. The candles represented the twelve tribes of Israel.

Hundreds of young dancers also performed at the ceremony, choreographing a rain dance with umbrellas in an attempt to convey Israel’s thirst for water.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat praised the organizers for finding a way to observe the ceremony despite the tragedy. “Lives need to continue, and this ceremony is a symbol,” he told The Jerusalem Post before the official service. “They understood the importance of the ceremony, and I am proud of them, how they organized this even with so much pain,” he said.

Last week, the police opened an investigation into the Itzuv Bama company, the entity responsible for installing the state lighting in question. Its collapse left four students wounded and Bezaleli dead.

The magistrate accused the company’s owners and engineer of “a long chain of negligence” and said it was “negligence at the highest level [we] have ever seen.”

On Tuesday, four suspects – company owner Elad Lavie, company engineer Oren Varshavky, security consultant Yitzhak Zuker and ceremony director, Alex Sela – were released from prison on the condition of seven days’ house arrest.

Click for special JPost features

Related Content

August 31, 2014
Rioting resumes throughout east Jerusalem Saturday night