Celebrations of 64 years of Israeli independence kicked off on Wednesday night with the lighting of beacons at the official ceremony at Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem, which also marks the conclusion of Memorial Day.
The official ceremony was marred by the fateful accident at the site last week, in which 20-year-old Israel Defense Forces soldier, 2nd Lt. Hila Bezaleli, was killed when a lighting rig collapsed during rehearsals for the Independence Day ceremony. Bezaleli’s family were present at the ceremony on Wednesday.
Rivlin went on to mention the protests against the high cost of living that swept Israel last summer, saying that the past year had revealed an Israel “that cares more.”
“We’ve seen a glimpse of a bright Israeli future,” he said.
Rivlin also recalled the public debates over the exclusion of women from the public sphere that have taken place over the past year, and invited all sectors of Israeli society - Arabs, Jews, relgious, and secular - to work together for Israel’s future.
Israelis bear the responsibility for the success and future of the country, he said.
According to figures published by the Central Bureau of Statistics on the eve of Israel’s 64th Independence Day on Tuesday, the country’s population stood at 7.881 million. At its establishment, the population of Israel was 806,000.