Israel Celebrates 22nd Anniversary of Independence; No Festivities in Kiryat Shemona

Israelis put aside their many troubles today to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of their Independence. The national holiday brought huge throngs into the streets and entertainers performing in public squares lent a carnival atmosphere to the occasion. The festivities began officially last night when sirens ended Memorial Day, a solemn period devoted to honoring the nation’s war dead, and ushered in “Yom Haatzmaut.” Fireworks lit up the skies over the major cities. The main streets and public buildings were flood-lighted. Cafes and places of entertainment were jammed. On Mt. Herzl, overlooking Jerusalem, Knesset Speaker Reuben Barkat declared Independence Day officially begun. Twelve beacons representing the 12 tribes of ancient Israel were lit by 12 children selected from border settlements. Just before the ceremonies. Foreign Minister Abba Eban, speaking in Arabic over Israeli radio and television, appealed to the Arab peoples and heads of state to make peace with Israel.

Unlike past years, Israel held no massive military parades today. But Israelis were treated to formation flights of Air Force Jets headed by the U.S. F-4 Phantoms. And on the placid waters of Haifa Bay, Israel’s Navy and Army paratroopers put on a joint display witnessed by tens of thousands of Israelis and tourists who Jammed the slopes of Mt. Carmel. The Navy, often referred to as Israel’s neglected service, took the wraps off its newest and most potent weapon–the French-built “Saar” class missile-carrying boats. The speedy craft, each carrying eight Israel-made “Gabriel” surface-to-surface missiles, raced down the coast from Ras Hanikra near the Lebanese border, past the seaside resort of Nahariya, and the ancient Crusaders’ town of Acre to sweep into Haifa Bay. As they went through precision maneuvers, Israeli transports roared overhead dropping masses of paratroopers on to the bay to be picked up by rubber boats. The missile craft later continued down the coast for the benefit of thousands lining the shores at Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

There were no festivities last night in the little Upper Galilee village of Kiryat Shemona near the Lebanese border where the third victim of terrorist rocket attacks, 18 year-old Daniel Chayu, was buried. The young man was killed Saturday night when a Katyusha rocket scored a direct hit on his home. Two of his brothers were injured. He was the third civilian casualty at Kiryat Shemona since last Wednesday when 56 year-old Shimon Banjo and his 17 year-old daughter, Rena were killed in a similar attack. Premier Golda Meir attended the young man’s funeral. Later she warned, “We shall not permit the murderers to sit across the border to sow death in our midst.” There was a poignant scene at Lydda Airport last night when Hanna Maron, one of Israel’s favorite actresses– turned after three months in a Munich hospital. Miss Maron was the victim of an Arab terrorist attack on El Al passengers at Munich Airport last winter and lost a leg. After a tearful reunion with her children she promised she would return to the stage.

NEXT STORY