Media outlets wonder if change made to prevent live protests

Independence Day ceremony to be pre-recorded, held at Gaza border communities

Minister Regev announces change of format to honor fallen on October 7, shifts from traditional location of Mount Herzl, scraps audience to respect ‘public atmosphere’

Fireworks at the 75th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, on April 25, 2023.(Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Fireworks at the 75th anniversary Independence Day ceremony, held at Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on April 25, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90/ File)

Transportation Minister Miri Regev, who is responsible for planning Israel’s national day events, announced Sunday that, for the first time, the annual ceremony that marks the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day will take place without a live audience, and will be filmed ahead of its broadcast.

Instead of taking place at the Mount Herzl National Cemetery in Jerusalem, the ceremony will take place in an altered format to honor those who fell in the Hamas massacre of October 7, a statement from her office read. Independence Day starts this year on the eve of May 13.

The traditional torches, which are usually lit at the ceremony on Mount Herzl, will instead be lit inside the Gaza border communities attacked on October 7, as well as on Israel Defense Forces bases that were targeted in the Hamas attack and suffered heavy losses.

Because of the adapted format, the lighting of the torches will be done without an audience and will instead be broadcast across the country, after it is pre-recorded.

Some media outlets speculated that the ceremony would not be shown live to avoid broadcasting potential protests by the relatives of hostages held by Hamas terrorists during the ceremony.

However, a statement from Regev’s office said the decision was made due to “the overall public atmosphere of bereavement, loss and deep pain of the people of Israel” and the longing to see the release of the hostages held in Gaza.

Transportation Minister Miri Regev speaks to the media after a court hearing at the Magistrate’s Court in Tel Aviv, January 31, 2024. (Flash90)

The war was sparked when Hamas-led terrorists stormed across the border on October 7 and rampaged through southern communities, killing some 1,200 people, and taking 253 hostages to Gaza.

Last month, Regev announced that the fireworks display would also be scrapped, and urged municipal leaders to follow suit and cancel the fireworks portion of their local festivities as well.

There has been concern for years over the impact the fireworks have on military veterans and others with PTSD from wars or terror attacks.

The Israeli Air Force will also not hold its annual flyover, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant decided.

The IDF said last month that the flyby, as well as the Navy’s flotilla in Eilat, will not be held, due to the military’s focus on the war, and per the recommendation of IAF chief Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar and Navy chief Vice Adm. David Saar Salama.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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