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Israel Independence Day

Celebrated every 5th of the Iyar month of the Hebrew calendar, Yom Ha'atzmaut marks the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

Better known as Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel's independence day is celebrated every 5th of the Jewish month of Iyar to commemorate the birth of the modern nation of Israel. The venue for these celebrations is the Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

For 2016, this date will be 14th of May.

Celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut in Israel
Yom Ha'atzmaut is a national holiday in Israel, and witnesses many events and celebrations.

Yom Hazikaron: Celebrated on every 4th of Iyar, this day which commemorates the sacrifices of the martyrs which made possible the formation of the state of Israel. At the sundown, the Israeli flag is raised from half-staff to the top of the pole, followed by the president addressing the nation and the soldiers organizing a parade.

Yom Ha'atzmaut: On the independence day, a formal ceremony is held in the evening. The speaker of the parliament delivers a speech, which is followed by an impressive parade by the soldiers of various forces. This is followed by the lighting of the 12 torches (each representing a tribe of Israel).

Israel Prize: The highest state honor of Israel Prize is awarded on the independence day, to recognize extraordinary contribution by an individual or organization. Four areas are covered in this prize, which keep changing every 4 to 7 years.

International Bible Contest: This Bible contest is held worldwide for the high school students. The contest focuses on the Jewish Bible or other religious texts, some assigned chapters of which the students are expected to prepare. A competitive contest is then held on the day of Yom Ha'atzmaut.

Other than these, people organize events all over the country and celebrate the day in different ways. The Jewish communities elsewhere in the world also celebrate, marking their support for those in Israel.

History of Yom Ha'atzmaut
Ever since the rise of Zionist movements, the demand for an independent Jewish state in Palestine was strong. However, it was not until 1917 that the British government gave the idea fresh impetus by seconding such a demand. What followed was a period of turmoil: the Arab states were wholly against the idea while the Jewish states seconded it. This led to the Arab riots during 1936-39, but eventually the partition took place. On the 14th of May, 1948, a delegation led by David Ben-Gurion formally announced the formation of a Jewish state.

Challenges facing Israel
Israel is a developed nation with an impressive array of armed forces. However, the threats it faces are equally grave: Working out terms of peace with Palestine; settling the territory disputes regarding Jerusalem and West Bank; and dealing with militancy.

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