An Israel at War Marks 76th Independence Day

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - MAY 13: A woman carries an Israeli flag with a yellow ribbon for the ho
Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty

Israel began celebrations Monday night for its 76th independence day, with the nation still at war, pursuing the destruction of the Hamas terrorists who carried out the brutal attack of October 7 that killed roughly 1,200 people.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a torch-lighting ceremony (translation via Government Press Office):

Seventy-six years ago, in the War of Independence, we stood alone. We were few against many. Five Arab armies invaded our land to annihilate the fledgling state. We were short on arms, had little resources. Yet we had one secret weapon: the spirit of generations, the life force of an age-old people that refuses to die, a nation that stood up against those who would destroy it. As is written in Psalms: ‘I shall not die, but live.’ It is thanks to this spirit that we prevailed over our enemies and secured our existence. Today we are immeasurably stronger, but the desire to destroy us has not disappeared. It is still here.

We saw this on October 7. This year’s Independence Day is not like any other year’s independence day. The war is still raging. It was forced upon us on that dark day of the horrendous massacre. Many of our brothers and sisters are still being held in the dungeons of Hamas. Their families are suffering greatly. We will bring them all home, the living and the dead.

Residents from the north and the south are still evacuated from their homes because of the war. We will return them home safely. Our best fighters fell in heroic battles. The bereaved families suffer the anguish of loss. The wounded are coping with the injuries of battle with incomparable dignity. I embrace everyone with love. I wish a speedy recovery to the wounded. When I meet many of them and with the families of the fallen, they say: “Our heroes did not die in vain, they were not wounded in vain. Do not stop until the Hamas monsters are eradicated.” And I promise: That is what we will do.

Although this is not a regular Independence Day, it is a special opportunity for us to realize the significance of our independence. Independence means being a free people in our country, having the freedom to defend ourselves by ourselves and the sovereignty to satisfy the behest of generations: never again!

We are doing all this together. Just like our courageous soldiers fight together, shoulder to shoulder, in tanks and armored vehicles, in tunnels, in aircraft and navy vessels. At the moment of truth, the entire country took up arms. What an incredible generation we have, a generation of triumphant heroes.

The torches that we set ablaze this evening will shine a bright light on the miracle that is our country. They recount, in flames, the story of our incredible nation. We will raise our flags and torches in honor of our nation.

Israelis observe their independence day on the 5th day in the month of Iyar, which corresponds to May 14, 1948, the day that the British Mandate in Palestine expired and the Jewish community of the area declared independence.

Palestinian Arabs refused to declare their own state — which was supposed to have split the land, under a partition plan approved by the United Nations in November 1947. Instead, they joined five Arab states in attacking Israel.

Israel won the ensuing war — though Jordan took over, and destroyed, the Jewish communities of Jerusalem and Judea. Roughly 700,000 Palestinian Arabs were displaced; a similar number of Jewish refugees left Arab countries.

Palestinians have come to observe May 15th as “Nakba Day,” the day of the so-called “catastrophe,” even though the disaster was of their own making, after rebelling against the British, siding with the Nazis, and then attacking Israel.

Normally the two days do not coincide, but every 19 years the Hebrew and secular calendars line up again, meaning that this year — 19 x 4 = 76 — Israel’s Independence Day, “Yom Ha’atzmaut,” falls on its original secular date.

Many Jewish communities around the world also mark the day with parties and celebrations. The South African Jewish community held a carnival for Israel’s independence day, which was open to members of the general public.

People holding Israeli flags in Johannesburg on May 13, 2024 during the celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s national day that commemorates the 76th anniversary of the creation of state of Israel on May 14, 1948. (Photo by Wikus de Wet / AFP) (Photo by WIKUS DE WET/AFP via Getty Images)

In Israel, Independence Day immediately follows Memorial Day (“Yom Hazikaron“), an emotionally-charged transition. The week before Independence Day also marks the observance of Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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