Colorful Military Parade in Jerusalem Marks Celebration of Israel’s Anniversary
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Colorful Military Parade in Jerusalem Marks Celebration of Israel’s Anniversary

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Israel formally celebrated today the 19th anniversary of the founding of its modern state with a military parade in Jerusalem. The parade was boycotted by virtually all major powers but was impressive, nevertheless, in its smart turn-out, highly disciplined ranks and symbolic representation of every arm of Israel’s defense forces.

Promptly at 9:30 o’clock this morning, with a crowd of 14,000 selected guests, many of them foreigners, jamming the University Stadium, General Uzi Narkiss, officer in command of the Israel army’s central command, entered the stadium. At that very moment, President Zalman Shazar, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, took their places in the official reviewing stand, flanked by police and military outriders. The flags of the nation and the military forces saluted, a bugle blew, and Gen. Narkiss, as marshal, addressed Mr. Shazar with the request: “Mr. President, do we have your permission to start the ceremonies?” Mr. Shazar nodded assent, and the ceremonies were under way.

Through two gates, the armed forces started marching in. There were soldiers and sailors, the crack Golani Brigade, girl soldiers carrying light machineguns, Druzes, representatives of Nahal, the border guard youth units, other border patrols, paratroopers in their colorful uniforms topped by red berets, air force fliers, and units representing those troops who, in recent weeks, have born the brunt of Israeli defense against Arab marauders from the Syrian borders in the north. The latter, obviously in recognition of their very recent defense actions, were welcomed with roaring cheers.


Every armed unit in all of Israel’s armed forces was represented among the 1,400 men and women who participated in the parade that soon filled the entire stadium. In deference to the pro

Israelis, many of whom had termed the ceremonies “a miniparade,” made up with their crowds along the streets outside the stadium, their cheering, applause and other greetings to the relatively small number of military personnel in the march. The units left the stadium, flags flying, pennants waving in a light breeze, as bugles blew, drums rolled, and an army band led the paraders through the streets of the capital.

It was pointed out that the music and the cheering would be heard clearly across the dividing line separating Israel’s Jerusalem from the Old City held by Jordan, providing in action the answer given by Premier Eshkol who had pledged that “even with the absence of the foreign diplomats, all will know that the parade was under way.” It was freely predicted that, in 1968, when Israel celebrates its 20th anniversary with a giant parade at Tel Aviv, Israel’s real armed might will be shown for all the world to see.


This morning’s parade was only the climax of a night-long series of anniversary celebrations held throughout Israel. All through the night, and into the dawn today, crowds filled squares and other meeting grounds in every Israeli city, town and settlement, singing, dancing and watching various types of entertainment. At Tel Aviv alone, the overnight crowds were estimated at more than 250,000, while at least 100,000 participated in the street celebrations in Jerusalem.

The absence of most of the major, foreign envoys from the official lists of diplomatic representatives, was noted today, although without further surprise. Among the absentees were the ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, the Soviet Union, West Germany and the envoys from most of the East European states. The highest-ranking foreigners present were the Vice-President of Madagascar, the chiefs-of-staff of Chile and Liberia, envoys from several other African countries, Generals Pierre Koenig and Pierre Fayot of France, and Jacques Soustelle, the exiled French leader of anti-de Gaulle forces.

While absenting themselves from the parade, however, all major diplomatic envoys did attend, yesterday afternoon, the official anniversary reception held in the home of President Shazar. The diplomatic corps at the reception was headed by the dean of the corps, Liberia’s Ambassador A. Jancy. After the reception, sirens sounded a signal for the halt for one minute of all traffic throughout the country. The minute of silence was in honor of the memories of the Israeli men and women who had lost their lives in the fight for the establishment of Israel’s independence, 19 years ago today.

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