Israel Celebrates Independence Day Today; Undeterred by War Shadows

Undeterred by the shadows of a possible war hovering over Israel, people throughout the country prepared today to celebrate tomorrow its eighth Independence Day with military and other parades.

The signal for the celebrations was given tonight by Premier David Ben Gurion in a radio broadcast in which he emphasized that “during the ninth year of Israel’s renewed independence we may have to face a supreme test which will be grave and difficult.” He emphasized that there was no “helplessness or fear” when the people of Israel faced their enemies before and there will be none if they have to face them again.

Israel will deliver two blows for everyone from the enemy, Mr. Ben Gurion assured the Israelis in his broadcast. At the same time, he stressed that “although our military defense has become our chief concern, we shall not interrupt even for one moment our creative work.” He reiterated Israel’s loyalty to its proclaimed principles of in-gathering the exiles, developing the country for the benefit of its inhabitants, and building the state on principles of liberty, justice and peace.

The largest military parade marking Independence Day will be held tomorrow in Haifa where the streets were be flagged today and the windows of many shops and homes were decorated. About 500,000 Israelis are expected to flock into the city to witness the parade and special stands have been erected for visitors, including hundreds of tourists from abroad.

President Itzhak Ben Zvi, in an Independence Day message to the people of Israel and the Jews of the world, said that Israel’s enemies have recently received assistance from Israel’s foes and from nations that declare themselves Israel’s friends. He charged that the rights of small nations proclaimed solemnly and publicly when the United Nations was established have been “shamefully disavowed,” that obligations to Israel have not been observed. But, he added, “we are confident this design will surely fail and that justice will triumph.”

Today Israel honored the memory of its war dead who fell in fighting for the country’s independence. Flags on all government buildings and national institutions were flown at half-mast, military and civilian memorial services were held in cemeteries where Israel’s war dead are buried and black-clad relatives of the young men and women who died in the War of Liberation visited cemeteries.

Synagogues throughout the nation lit candles tonight and offered special prayers, in addition to the chanting of the traditional memorial prayer “El Molei Rachamim,” in connection with the observance of Memorial Day, which precedes the celebration of Israel’s Independence Day. Special prayers were also offered for the welfare of the state, “its statesmen, leaders and defenders.”

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