(JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres offered a warning to Israel’s enemies on the occasion of Israeli Independence Day.
"To those who are now threatening Israel I say, don’t repeat the mistakes of your predecessors," Peres said Thursday in a speech at an annual ceremony bestowing honors on 120 soldiers for Yom Ha’atzmaut. "You threaten out of a hunger for conquest. We defend out of an aspiration for peace. That wars, which Israel did not initiate, brought it unexpected gains, causing the aggressors unexpected losses."
The ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem was part of Israel’s celebration of its 64th birthday. To mark the day, the Israel Air Force put on an air show while an estimated 1.5 million people were expected to flock to Israel’s parks and recreation areas for hikes and barbecues. Many Israel Defense Forces bases were open to the general public.
Parks and bases reportedly were so overrun that by 11 a.m. Thursday, police asked the public to stop coming.