JERUSALEM (Apr. 28)
Premier Menachem Begin called on the Israeli public to observe the Biblical injunction to “rejoice on the festival” marking the 34th anniversary of Israel’s independence. In his Independence Day speech, broadcast last night, he said that Israel was stronger “and more entrenched in its homeland” than at any time since the days of the Maccabees.
With the hand-over of Sinai to full Egyptian control last Sunday still fresh in mind, Begin noted that Israel withdrew from Sinai “not as a defeated nation but as a victotious nation, of our own volition.”
He said that Israel, which has last 15,000 dead and suffered 30,000 disabled in its five wars needed and deserved a respite from war. There were “grounds for hope,” he said, that the peace treaty with Egypt would bring “forty years of rest to the land,” to quote the Biblical phrase. “Or perhaps 80 years, “Begin added.
THEME OF THIS YEAR’S CELEBRATION
Israel’s 34th Independence Day began last night at the termination of the traditional Day of Remembrance for the nation’s fallen soldiers. There was the traditional torchlight parade and ceremony on Mr. Herzl. The theme of this year’s independence celebration is 100 years of Jewish settlement, beginning with the Bilu movement in 1882 to present day Israel.
Today, II new Nahal (paramilitary) outpost settlements were established in various parts of the country. The number II was chosen, it is believed, to commemorate the II settlements established in the Negev during one night in 1946 in defiance of the British Mandatory administration in Palestine.
Whatever the theme, it was the state of the weather that concerned most Israelis and, as the early morning cool gave way to sunny warmth, tens of thousands of picnickers took to the beaches and Jewish National Fund forests. Long before noon there were no parking spaces vacant at the most popular holiday spots. The army opened several military camps to the public as did a number of military and aviation industry plants.
Security precautions were evident throughout the country. Police repeatedly wamed the public to be alert for suspicious-looking parcels or individuals, noting that terrorists were likely to be active wherever crowds gather. But there were no incidents in Israel to mar this Independence Day.
NATION’S MOOD IS LOW KEYED
Nevertheless, veteron observers detected a national mood that was sadder and more low key than on previous Independence Days. The Irauma of pulling out of Sinai only three days before, the spectacle of Israeli troops drogging kicking, screaming die-hards out of Yamit and the systematic demolition of that town by army bull-dozers after the evacuation stunned many Israelis who watched those events on television.
In fact, the month preceding the Sinai pull out was a sour one for Israelis, containing as it did prolonged and violent disturbances on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the stubborn resistance to Israeli rule by Druze in the Golan Heights and the shooting spree on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by an American-born Israeli soldier which, rightly or wrongly, tamished Israel’s image abroad as a protector of Islamic holy places.
Unrest continued on the West Bank and Gaza Strip today. Four Israeli soldiers were Injured by stone-throwing Arab youths in the Jebeliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. The soldiers opened fire, wounding four Arab youths. Rioters and soldiers battled in several West Bank towns. Five Arab youths were wounded in a clash with Israeli troops in Nablus.