JERUSALEM (Apr. 26)
Israel began celebrating tonight the seventh anniversary of its independence in a mood of gaiety and with definite hope for brighter economic aspect. Street dancing started early this evening and continued far into the night.
Streets in all cities and settlements were decorated today in preparation for the celebrations and the blue-white Israel flag fluttered from windows of almost every house in the country. An optimistic note was sounded in the Independence Day radio broadcasts and statements by Premier Moshe Sharett and other members of the Cabinet.
Israel President Itzhak Ben Zvi, in an Independence Day message to the nation, as well as to the Jews of the world, emphasized the difficulties which the country faced in the course of last year and outlined the problems which Israel will meet in its eighth year, upon which it is entering. The two major problems facing the country, he said, are the arrival of more immigrants in Israel and their absorption.
The President expressed regret that during the past year no improvement in Israel’s security situation had taken place. The danger from the neighboring Arab countries has not diminished, he stated, adding that although the road to an Arab-Israel peace is still a long one, Israel hopes that peace will nevertheless be achieved.
THOUSANDS ATTEND TORCH-LIGHTNING CEREMONY AT MT. HERZL
Independence Day was launched with a ceremony atop Mt. Herzl where Speaker of the Knesset Joseph Sprinzak lit a torch signaling to inhabitants of the entire Jerusalem area that the celebration was begun. The statement by President Ben Zvi and one by Premier Moshe Sharett were broadcast to the nation later in the evening. The torch-lighting ceremony on Mt. Herzl was attended by thousands of people including leaders of the government, Jewish Agency and members of the diplomatic corps.
Sirens sounded at 7 A.M. today in Jerusalem, announcing the official beginning of Remembrance Day, which is marked the day before Independence Day. Candles were lit and special prayers were recited in synagogues throughout the country. All flags over government buildings were lowered to half-mast and a special memorial torch lighted in the square opposite Jerusalem’s City Hall was guarded by a special unit of veterans.
This afternoon, a special memorial and wreath laying ceremony took place at the main military cemetery atop Mt. Herzl. Later a special religious service, arranged by the Ministry for Religion, was held in the national cemetery on Mt. Zion. Other services were held in all cemeteries and in the schools where pupils heard a special commemorative broadcast by Education Minister Ben Zion Dinur.
Reviewing the passing-out parade of the first graduating class at the Israel Command and Staff college. Defense Minister David Ben Gurion told the officers that Israel has the best and most efficient army in the Middle East. The parade, one of the introductory events of Independence Day, was also reviewed and addressed by Premier Moshe Sharett and the Army Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Dayan.
In a special order of the day, Gen. Dayan paid tribute to those soldiers who gave up their lives for Israel’s liberation and in guarding its borders against aggression. For the first time, he revealed that a total of 6,000 men and women had died in the War of Liberation against invading the Arab states.