Israel kicks off 63rd Independence Day celebrations

Torch-lighting ceremony on Jerusalem's Mount Herzl marks transition from Remembrance Day to Independence Day.

yom haatzmaut 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yom haatzmaut 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The nation celebrated 63 years since the State of Israel's establishment on Monday night, as Independence Day got underway across the country.
The abrupt transition from Remembrance Day to Independence Day was marked by the annual torch-lighting ceremony on the capital's Mount Herzl.
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The official theme for Independence Day this year is "mutual responsibility," which Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin marked by dedicating the torch to Jonathan Pollard, together with captured IDF soldiers Ron Arad, Gilad Schalit, Zachary Baumel, Yehudah Katz, Tzvi Feldman, Guy Hever and Majdi Halabi.
In the evening, free outdoor concerts and celebrations were scheduled to be held across the country, and in the daytime, hundreds of thousands of Israelis were expected to visited national parks, forests and beaches.
The IAF and Navy will hold celebratory demonstrations in the air and the sea that can be seen along Israel's Mediterranean coast.
Independence Day celebrations hosted by President Shimon Peres at Beit Hanassi were scheduled to be webcast from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The webcast will include an air force flyby and a ceremony in which the President's Prize for excellence will be distributed to 120 soldiers from different branches of the IDF.
A new Independence Day tradition, which began last year, will be kept up: The prime minister, defense minister and the chief of General Staff will choose their favorite song to sing with the crowd at Beit Hanassi.
This year Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will duet with popular singers Miri Mesika, Harel Skaat and Kobi Aflalo.
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