Sites shut down as Independence Day visitors cram parks, army bases
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Independence Day 2014

Sites shut down as Independence Day visitors cram parks, army bases

With over a million visitors expected, major heritage sites closed to public, major traffic jams reported

Yifa Yaakov is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

  • An ultra-Orthodox Jew watches a demonstration by The Israeli Air Force over the Knesset on Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    An ultra-Orthodox Jew watches a demonstration by The Israeli Air Force over the Knesset on Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
  • Families flock to Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day with a traditional barbecue, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    Families flock to Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day with a traditional barbecue, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • Israelis celebrate Independence Day in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis celebrate Independence Day in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israelis gather on the beach in Tel Aviv to watch a military show marking Israeli Independence Day on May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
    Israelis gather on the beach in Tel Aviv to watch a military show marking Israeli Independence Day on May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)
  • Children sell Independence Day paraphernalia in Jerusalem's Sacher Park on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    Children sell Independence Day paraphernalia in Jerusalem's Sacher Park on Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • An Israeli man grills meat on Israel's 66th Independence Day in Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    An Israeli man grills meat on Israel's 66th Independence Day in Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • A vendor displays Independence Day paraphernalia for sale at Sacher Park, Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    A vendor displays Independence Day paraphernalia for sale at Sacher Park, Jerusalem, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • An Israeli man celebrates Israeli Independence Day with a barbecue, Jerusalem, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    An Israeli man celebrates Israeli Independence Day with a barbecue, Jerusalem, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Families flock to Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    Families flock to Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • Israeli children play in Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    Israeli children play in Jerusalem's Sacher Park as they celebrate Israel's 66th Independence Day, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • Children celebrate Independence Day in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    Children celebrate Independence Day in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
  • A child plays with the white spray known as "snow," which is used on Independence Day, in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)
    A child plays with the white spray known as "snow," which is used on Independence Day, in Jerusalem's Sacher Park, Tuesday, May 6, 2014. (photo credit: Yifa Yaakov/The Times of Israel)

Millions of Israelis crowded parks, nature sites, museums and army bases to celebrate the country’s 66th Independence Day Tuesday, forcing authorities to turn visitors away as some sites exceeded capacity.

Four heritage sites, the Atlit detainee camp, the Ayalon Institute in Rehovot, the Begin Center in Jerusalem, and the Bank of Israel Museum, also in Jerusalem, were closed to the public before noon Tuesday after being flooded with visitors.

Later, police began urging visitors to stay away from the Tel Nof and Ramat David air force bases, reporting overcrowding there.

“The parking lot of the [Ramat David] base is full,” the police tweeted from its official account.

The Israel Defense Forces opens many of its bases to the public on Independence Day.

In addition Israelis were treated to a flyover by military aircraft from Beersheba to the country’s north.

Police also said Ashkelon National Park was closed from overcrowding.

The Jewish National Fund said early Tuesday that it expected over a million visitors to hit Israel’s national parks and other sites, and deployed rangers to the sites to prevent littering and fires.

Barbecuing for Independence Day is considered a mainstay of the holiday.

Many main highways, including Route 2 along the coast and Route 1, which runs from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, were plagued with heavy traffic.

Crowding was also reported on Route 73, between Nahalal and the Ramat David base. Highway 65, a major northern road, was also reported jammed

 

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