With flags unfurled, jets overhead, and grills galore, Israel marks 71 years
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With flags unfurled, jets overhead, and grills galore, Israel marks 71 years

Independence Day celebrations across the country see hundreds of thousands turn out to enjoy nature, watch Air Force flybys, and cook up a BBQ

  • People at Bograshov Beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow on Israel's 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
    People at Bograshov Beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow on Israel's 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash 90)
  • Israelis spray each other foam as they celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis spray each other foam as they celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • People celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank on May 9, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    People celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day at an IDF fair in the Etzion settlement bloc in the West Bank on May 9, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • People play with foam spray during Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People play with foam spray during Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations in Saker Park in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • People celebrating Israel's 71st Independence Day in Saker Park in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People celebrating Israel's 71st Independence Day in Saker Park in Jerusalem, May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israeli Efroni T-6 Texan II planes perform during an air show, over the beach in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 9, 2019 as Israel marks Independence Day, 71 years after the modern Jewish state was established. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
    Israeli Efroni T-6 Texan II planes perform during an air show, over the beach in the Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv, on May 9, 2019 as Israel marks Independence Day, 71 years after the modern Jewish state was established. (JACK GUEZ / AFP)
  • Israeli walk during a march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad, in the West Bank on May 9, 2019. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)
    Israeli walk during a march to celebrate Israel's 71st Independence Day near Havat Gilad, in the West Bank on May 9, 2019. (Hillel Maeir/Flash90)
  • People at Bugrashov Beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow on Israel's 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash 900
    People at Bugrashov Beach in Tel Aviv watch the military airshow on Israel's 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash 900
  • Israeli flags hangs on the walls of the Cave of the Patriarchs for Israel's 71st Independence Day , in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 8, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
    Israeli flags hangs on the walls of the Cave of the Patriarchs for Israel's 71st Independence Day , in the West Bank city of Hebron, May 8, 2019. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
  • President Reuven Rivlin with outstanding soldiers during an event as part of Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem on May 9, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    President Reuven Rivlin with outstanding soldiers during an event as part of Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem on May 9, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
  • An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
    An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, at an event for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem on May 9, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, at an event for outstanding soldiers as part of Israel's 71st Independence Day celebrations, at the President's residence in Jerusalem on May 9, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
  • Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    Israelis barbecue in Jerusalem as Israel celebrates its 71st Independence Day on May 9, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
    An Israeli Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and F-16 fighter jets perform during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
  • An Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jet performs during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)
    An Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jet performs during an air show over Tel Aviv on May 9, 2019, as Israel marks its 71st Independence Day. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis were flocking to beaches and parks, lighting grills, waving flags and craning their necks for a glimpse of Israel’s fighter jets to mark the country’s 71th Independence Day on Thursday.

After a night of fireworks, concerts, parties and an emotional crossover from Memorial Day to Independence Day, most Israelis were spending the day, a national holiday, celebrating the country’s birthday.

Celebrations in Jerusalem kicked off Thursday morning at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem where President Reuven Rivlin hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF chief Aviv Kohavi and others for a musical ceremony honoring 120 soldiers receiving commendations for excellence.

Speaking to the soldiers, Rivlin said that for Israelis, “everything that is a challenge becomes an opportunity for us.”

The annual international Bible Quiz competition finals took place after the ceremony in Jerusalem and saw Israeli teenager Yonatan Weissman, a Jerusalem native, win the top prize. He beat out American candidate Benjamin Colchamiro of New Jersey’s Kushner yeshiva high school.

The IDF also opened its bases to the public, displaying jeeps, tanks and other equipment throughout the country.

President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu take part in an event at the President’s Residence honoring outstanding soldiers during Israel’s 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Haim Zach/GPO)

On Wednesday night, the mournful and somber speeches of Memorial Day gave way to joyful celebrations as Independence Day officially started.

Women from the Druze minority visit the Ramat David air force base near the northern city of Haifa during Israel’s 71st Independence Day, May 9, 2019. (Flash90)

The juxtaposition of the two days is a key element of Israelis’ experience of national independence, ensuring that no commemoration completely excludes the achievement wrought by the sacrifice of the fallen and their families, and that the elation of independence is never far removed from an awareness of its cost.

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