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Israeli medical team of Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer wave national flags as Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes fly over the hospital during Israel's Independence day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) celebrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ramat Gan on April 29, 2020.  (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Israeli medical team of Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer wave national flags as Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes fly over the hospital during Israel's Independence day (Yom Ha'atzmaut) celebrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ramat Gan on April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Photo essay

Israel at 72: A country under curfew salutes those fighting the coronavirus

With Independence Day events canceled due to lockdown, Israelis looked to the skies where the air force made a modest, but very pointed, gesture of appreciation for medical workers

Israel on Wednesday celebrated its 72nd year of independence without the traditional public revelry associated with the holiday as the coronavirus pandemic continued to impose itself on national life.

In a display of appreciation, official events were dedicated in honor of medical staff working to combat the virus and the Israeli Air Force gave a sky-high salute to those on the front lines.

The air force, which usually shows off its inventory of jets and helicopters in a cross-country flyover, instead only sent out a squad of four stunt planes that followed a flight path over the country’s hospitals and medical centers.

At each site the planes looped and circled in an expression of the nation’s appreciation for medical workers.

The IDF canceled the traditional flyover in a bid to get people to stay at home, as a nationwide curfew went into effect from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday evening, to prevent large gatherings as Israelis celebrate the founding of the state.

Israelis were told to stay at home and avoid crowding the streets and parks for barbecues and public parties, in a bid to avoid a fresh outbreak of the deadly pathogen.

Israeli medical team of Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer wave national flags as Israeli Air Force (IAF) planes fly over the hospital during Israel’s Independence day (Yom Ha’atzmaut) celebrations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ramat Gan on April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)

In some places, the army and other security agencies also paraded jeeps and emergency vehicles by homes instead of setting up displays around the country and at bases, as is done in most years.

Independence Day is celebrated each year on the Hebrew date of the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Independence Day celebrations began on Tuesday night as the country transitioned from the sober Memorial Day.

The annual torch-lighting ceremony, a centerpiece of the shift to Independence Day, was prerecorded for the first time at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery and took place without an audience present. Mount Herzl, along with all other military cemeteries in the country, was locked on Monday to all visitors, to prevent gatherings on the annual remembrance day for Israel’s 23,816 fallen soldiers and terror victims.

The Israeli Air Force aerobatic team perform during a flyover as part as the festivities of Israel’s 72nd Independence day, seen in the coastal city of Netanya, on April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
The Israeli Air Force aerobatic team perform during a flyover as part as the festivities of Israel’s 72nd Independence day, seen in the coastal city of Netanya, on April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
The Israeli Air Force aerobatic team perform during an air show as part as the festivities of Israel’s 72nd Independence day, seen in the coastal city of Netanyahu, April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
Commander of the Israeli Air Force Major General Amikam Norkin (C) poses for a group picture with the staff at Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer, during Israel’s Independence day celebrations, Ramat Gan on April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
Staff at Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer wave national flags as the Israeli Air Force aerobatic team fly over the hospital during Israel’s Independence day celebrations in a salute to medical teams fighting the coronavirus outbreak, April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
Staff at Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer wave national flags as the Israeli Air Force aerobatic team fly over the hospital during Israel’s Independence day celebrations in a salute to medical teams fighting the coronavirus outbreak, April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
Staff from Sheba Medical Center in Tel HaShomer wave national flags Israel’s Independence day celebrations as the Israeli Air Force aerobatic team fly over the hospital in a salute to the country’s medical teams fighting the coronavirus outbreak, April 29, 2020. (JACK GUEZ/AFP)
Military vehicles seen during a parade to mark Israel ‘s 72nd Independence Day in the West Bank settlement of Efrat, in Gush Etzion, April 29, 2020. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
Police at a roadblock on a road enforcing a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Jerusalem, on April 29, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police at a roadblock on a road enforcing a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, Jerusalem, on April 29, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Police at a roadblock in Jerusalem enforcing a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, on April 29, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Medical staff cheer an Israeli air force aerobatic team flying over Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, April 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Police enforcing a lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, seen at a roadblock on Begin Road in Tel Aviv, April 29, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Drones form the number 72 during celebrations for Israel’s 72nd Independence Day, in Ramat Gan, April 28, 2020. (Oded Balilty/AP)
Medical staff and patients wear masks and wave Israeli flags as an Israeli Air Force aerobatic team flies in formation over the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, in the northern city of Hadera, April 29, 2020. (Ariel Schalit/AP)
An Israeli Air Force acrobatic team flies over Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv on Israel’s 72nd Independence Day.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Israeli police guard a roadblock at EIn Hemed, near Jerusalem, on April 28, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
An Israeli cooking meat on a barbecue at his home on Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown, April 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The Jaffa Gate area of Jerusalem’s Old City, deserted as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown, April 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Fireworks light up the skies in Holon as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown, April 28, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
The Israeli flag is projected on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown due to the coronavirus, April 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Fireworks light up the skies of the Israeli city of Holon as Israel celebrates it’s 72th Independence Day under lockdown due to the Coronavirus. April 28, 2020. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)
View of the empty Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown due to the Coronavirus, April 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the empty Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, as Israel celebrates its 72th Independence Day under lockdown, April 28, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
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