Huge Military Air Show Marks Israel’s 18th Anniversary Celebration
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Huge Military Air Show Marks Israel’s 18th Anniversary Celebration

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Israel celebrated the 18th anniversary of its rebirth here today with a military parade that was considered the most impressive show of air, ground and armored might ever displayed by the Jewish State.

An estimated 400,000 persons, including about 18,000 visitors from abroad, were lined along the parade route, paralleling Haifa Bay, as President Zalman Shazar and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol — who is also Minister of Defense — took their places on the reviewing stand.

First came 20 Fouga jet planes, forming a Star of David, flying at a height of only about 300 feet above the parade route. The Fougas were followed by supersonic Couragans, Vautures and super-Mysteres. Sixty-three Mirages arrived in the formation of a diamond, followed by 60 more in formations of five. Many other new models of planes came along, including the new Frelon helicopters, and the Israeli Air Force portion of the parade was concluded with three helicopters towing the flags of the State and the Air Force.

As the planes disappeared beyond the horizon dozens of jeeps rolled along the route, each of the sturdy little cars displaying the emblems of various Israel defense commands and brigades. Behind the jeeps came the huge Centurion tanks, swift-moving Sherman tanks, powerful, American-made Pattons, armored half-tracks and reconnaissance and artillery units, including 120-millimeter mortars.


Then, for the first time, Israel showed its most modern hardware — 12 Hawk, air-to-ground missiles. The men — and women — on foot followed, many thousands of officers, cadets of the Army, Navy and Air Force leading the marchers in tight discipline, including units of Nahal (farmer soldiers), women’s formations, and units representing virtually every minority group in Israel. Paratroopers, in their leopard uniforms, concluded the military parade.

Israel’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, flanked by all former chiefs of staff of the country’s defense forces, took the salute alongside President Shazar and Premier Eshkol. Foreign Ambassadors, military leaders from several countries, including high officers of the armies of Peru and Dahomey, and representatives of the French army were on the reviewing stand, along with many other prominent guests from abroad.

By bus, automobile and virtually every other type of motor conveyance, the spectators had come into Haifa all through the early morning hours, ready for the parade, which had got under way promptly, as scheduled, at 10 o’clock. Stiff, hot winds laden with sand blew all morning, and the temperature had risen to very uncomfortable height by the time the parade had got under way, but the massed crowds held their places, cheering and applauding the marchers for their smart appearance and accurate formations.

There was one prominent Israeli whose absence among the dignitaries on the reviewing stand had been noticed by many watching the parade. He is David Ben-Gurion, former Prime Minister and ex-chief of the Defense Ministry. Mr. Ben-Gurion had announced earlier he would stay away from the parade in protest over the fact that it had not been staged in Jerusalem.

The parade today concluded Israel’s official celebration of its 18th anniversary, which had begun officially at sundown yesterday. In Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, this city and in every other community in Israel — city, settlement, town, immigrant development area and farthest border outpost — Israelis danced in the streets until dawn, gathered at mass rallies, sang, listened to and participated in oratory. All reports from around the country indicated that this year’s anniversary celebration was the most exuberant Israel had ever enjoyed.

The heat was so intense during the military parade that, as a result, one spectator died and more than 200 had to be given first aid treatment. At least 75 persons suffered from sunstroke and most of them were still being hospitalized here tonight. First aid stations had been established as a matter of routine all along the parade route. The stations were manned by Magen David Adom, the emergency medical corps in this country, as well as by Haifa municipal employes and medical corpsmen of the Israeli army.

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