HAIFA (Apr. 29)
Nearly 400,000 Israelis crowded the slopes of Mount Carmel here today to watch the impressive military parade marking Israel’s 15th anniversary along a route decorated with military colors draped in black and with flags flying at half mast in mourning for the late President Izhak Ben-Zvi.
In deference to the period of mourning for President Ben-Zvi, no military bands were included as the parade passed the reviewing stand, but they joined the marchers a few hundred yards beyond the saluting base, in accordance with the ruling yesterday by Army Chief Chaplain Shlotno Goren.
The parade started with a short memorial service to the late President while the flag was lowered to half mast to the sound of bugles. This was followed by a display of military aircraft which included 28 newly acquired Mirage-3 supersonic Jet fighters, other aircraft formations and Army helicopters.
The threatening weather forced some limitation of the air display but as the skies cleared, the aircraft appeared. The Mirage-3 fighters were followed by other aircraft including Mysteres, huge transports and Fuka trainers. The great precision of the pilots evoked high praise by the foreign military attaches watching the parade, A highlight of the aerial display was a formation of Fukas trailing blue-white smoke forming a pattern similar to Israel’s national flag.
NEWLY ACQUIRED WEAPONS DISPLAYED FOR THE FIRST TIME
The first column of mobile units was headed by jeeps carrying colors and banners–all trimmed with black ribbon. These were followed by 32 centurion tanks, Sherman tanks and a number of field engineering tanks fitted with flail chains and bulldozers.
Immediately behind the tank formations was a column of the S-II anti-tank missiles mounted on half-tracks, another of Israel’s newly acquired weapons displayed for the first time. Next in sequence were artillery pieces including mortars, 155 millimeter guns and howitzers.
As the roar of the last vehicle faded towards downtown Haifa, all eyes turned toward the sea where torpedo boats, destroyers and submarines sailed along the coast decorated with the Navy colors.
Following the Naval display, Army infantry units marched into view six abreast headed by paratroopers and including regular infantry, engineers, members of the Women’s Army Corps, Navy air cadets, Army officer cadets, minority units and units of the communications corps, medical corps, military police, border police, youth battalions and the military-agricultural Nahal.
Groups of hundreds of flags contrasted with the khaki attire as did the snow-white Navy unit, the grey-uniformed Air Force units and the marching girls wearing white socks and carrying Uzzi submachine guns.
The atmosphere of mourning returned to the huge crowds when the parade ended as the large groups walked soberly away instead of to the public squares where, in previous years, joyful dancing would be the order of the day.