Israelis celebrate Independence Day in nat'l parks

Tens of thousands of Israelis were celebrating Independence Day at national parks and sites. The country's forests were a particularly popular destination for hikes and picnics. The Jewish National Fund reported that by midmorning, most forests were at 80 percent of their visitors' capacity. According to Israel Radio, so many visitors had arrived at Malachim Forest near Kiryat Gat that police were diverting the public to alternate sites. The National Park near Ashkelon was closed to vehicles by midmorning, although visitors could still enter by foot. Tel Aviv's Yarkon Park was slated to host billionaire Arkady Gaydamak's "Surprise Party for Israel," and heavy traffic was expected in the area.