Tomorrow (April 23) Israel celebrated 21 years of independence, but last night and today were dedicated to the memory of those who died in the struggle for independence and in the three wars the country has fought since then.
President with flaming torch; wailing wall; crowd praying; naval detachment; president speaking and kindling flame; guard at beacon; chief rabbi speaking.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Tomorrow (April 23) Israel celebrated 21 years of independence, but last night and today were dedicated to the memory of those who died in the struggle for independence and in the three wars the country has fought since then. The ceremony of remembrance began last night (21 April) when President Zalman Shazar lit a candle in front of the Wailing Wall, the Jews' most sacred shrine, in Israeli-occupied Old Jerusalem.
Members of the Israeli armed forces took part in the ceremony and stood guard over the beacon lit by the president. Major General Rabbi Shlem Goren, chief chaplain of the armed forces recited psalms and a special prayer for those who fell in battle.
After the ceremony, hundreds of families of those who died remained at the wall in silent prayer. In all about 8,000 Israelis have died under arms in the past 21 years in clashes with Arab forces.
Today (22 April) long lines of children and adults laid wreaths on the wrecked armoured vehicles that line the route to Jerusalem. The vehicles have been allowed to stand as memorials ever since they were immobilised during the 1948 fighting.
Remembrance day ended at sunset, and the nation prepared to celebrate its 21 years of independence. But even as it did so, one of several Israeli aircraft on a raid aimed at radar stations in southern Jordan was reported to have been brought down and its pilot presumed killed.