(JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the return of military parades on Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.
Israel celebrated its 68th year of independence Wednesday night and Thursday, marking the anniversary of the state’s establishment on May 14, 1948 according to the Hebrew calendar. At a ceremony awarding 120 Israel Defense Forces soldiers with certificates of excellence Thursday in Jerusalem, Netanyahu suggested Israel should again hold military parades on the day, as it did annually through the late 1960s.
“I remember seeing tanks for the first time,” said Netanyahu, according to Israeli media reports. “I saw soldiers and that excited me greatly. I have a suggestion: Let’s bring back the military parades in Jerusalem.”
Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin also praised Israel’s economic and cultural development at ceremonies marking the day.
Speaking at a torch-lighting ceremony inaugurating the holiday Wednesday night on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said world leaders come to Jerusalem daily and admire Israel’s accomplishments.
“They see the roads, the construction, our technology, economy, society, art,” Netanyahu said of foreign dignitaries. “Above all, they see you, the citizens of Israel, and your great skills and entrepreneurship, your sense of mutual accountability, the way you unify in times of trouble.”
Speaking at the soldiers’ award ceremony Thursday, Rivlin compared the country to a little sister he has watched grow up. Rivlin, 76, was born in Jerusalem before Israel’s establishment.
“I dreamed of her, I hoped for her, oh, how we hoped,” Rivlin said. “I was present at her birth, and since then I’ve celebrated her 68 wonderful and amazing years.”
Rivlin went on to list 69 reasons he loves Israel. The list included Israeli settlements, illegal immigration to pre-state Israel before 1948, the classic Israeli tembel hat, solar water heaters that were invented in Israel and Iron Dome, Israel’s missile defence system.