300, 000 Spectators Watch Jerusalem Military Parade; Air Force Eliminated
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300, 000 Spectators Watch Jerusalem Military Parade; Air Force Eliminated

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Three hundred thousand spectators watched today as Israel marked its 13th anniversary with a parade of more than 4, 000 soldiers and 23 mobile units assembled to demonstrate Israel’s continuing progress in armor and artillery capability.

The 40-minute parade of military might included the first display of medium Centurion tanks and 105-mm self-propelled guns mounted on half-tracks, the latter-a device developed by Israeli engineers. Two arms of Israel’s military forces–its jet-equipped air force and its navy–were represented symbolically by specially dressed marchers in the parade.

The navy could not be represented in a land march and the air force was deliberately absent because the location of new Jerusalem and the Israeli-Jordan demarcation line nearby make it impossible for fast-moving jets to maneuver without a risk of being over Jordanian air space.

The route of the march had been altered in deference to objections of the United Nations stemming from Jordan’s annual charge that the parade was a threat to international peace. A Security Council meeting last week urged Israel and Jordan to adhere to all aspects of the armistice agreement. A meeting of the Mixed Armistice Commission last night, at which Israel was not present, went through the motion of voting that Israel’s concentration of armor in Jerusalem was a violation of the armistice pact.

The spirit of the paraders was high, many of them singing along the entire route of march. One of the most striking innovations was a change in the color of the paint of Israel’s armor, from brown to yellow, which military experts had decided was better suited to desert fighting. The yellow-colored tanks, armored cars, jeeps and artillery pieces shone in the bright hot sunlight of Israel’s first real summer day.


The reviewing stand, set up near the start of the parade route, was occupied by Israel officials and foreign diplomats. Among the dignitaries were Brigadier Joseph Geva, head of the central command, Chief of Staff Zvi Tsur, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and Mrs. Ben-Gurion, Mrs. Vera Weizmann, widow of Israel’s first President and President and Mrs. Ben-Zvi who were warmly applauded when they arrived.

The parade started with the armored columns first in line of march. The first units were light, highly maneuverable French AM tanks. These were followed by 14 Centurion tanks, moving in a single file and crunching marks into the concrete road. The tanks were greeted with great cheering. Then came the Sherman tanks, followed by engineering tanks, including bulldozers and cranes.

The armored infantry followed in their half-tracks, some equipped with heavy machine-guns and some with mortars. Following the armored columns were hundreds of jeeps, many of them carrying scout and reconnaissance troops. The green jeeps were driven by members of the border police units who currently carry the largest part of Israel’s border security burden. The artillery column, headed by its command in jeeps, followed.

Then came American 106-mm recoilless guns mounted on jeeps, French SS-10 anti-tank guided-missiles, 100-mm mortars, a new type of self-propelled 105-mm gun, eighteen 25-pound mortars and 125 howitzers. This part of the column ended with radar-controlled heavy anti-aircraft guns.

Next came the infantry column led by hundreds of color bearers. Each color bearer lowered the flag in salute as he passed the reviewing stand. A unit of infantry cadets formed a color guard of honor. Units of naval officers and seamen, infantry units, engineers with mine detectors, Uzi and Nahal units and youth battalions; air force members, communication experts with their equipment, military police, beret-wearing paratroopers, civil police flowed past the reviewing stand, saluting smartly as they passed.


Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, in an Independence Day message, cited as highlights of the past year “two extremely significant events in the annals of the Jewish people”– the discovery in the Judean desert of relics of the final Bar Kochba resistance to the conquering Romans nearly 2, 000 years ago and the trial of Gestapo colonel Adolf Eichmann.

The Prime Minister linked “the fighters for Jewish liberation of our generation and the earlier ones” of the Bar Kochba rebellion as constituting a “binding link in the chain of the mighty struggle of a stiff-necked people unremittingly cherishing a deep devotion to the ancient homeland.”

Mr. Ben-Gurion, treating the historic significance of the Eichman trial which was recessed for the Independence Day celebration, said “we are not unaware of the juridical arguments of anti-Semites–also perhaps of others–against holding the trial in Israel.”

He added that “this was no ordinary trial. It is not only a trial. For the first time in Jewish history, historic justice is being meted out by a sovereign Jewish people.” He said Israel intended to show the world “what anti-Semitism can lead to. It is not the individual who is in the dock and not the Nazi regime alone but also anti-Semitism throughout history.”

He also warned that “the same hatred which brought the destruction of one-third of Jewry still flourishes in the hearts of most of the leaders of our neighbors who are plotting to destroy us. Scores of Nazi experts are acting as their guides in their incitement against Israel and Jewry.” He concluded his message with a call to the nation for continuation of the pioneering spirit to settle the Negev and forge Israel’s newcomers into a single prosperous nation.

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