Israel celebrated its 72nd year of independence without the traditional public revelry associated with the holiday, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to impose itself on national life.
In a display of appreciation, official events were dedicated in honor of medical staff working to combat the virus and the Israeli Air Force gave a sky-high salute to those on the front lines.
The air force, which usually shows off its inventory of jets and helicopters in a cross-country flyover, only sent out a squad of four stunt planes that followed a flight path over the country’s hospitals and medical centers. The IDF canceled the traditional flyover in a bid to get people to stay home, amid a nationwide curfew to prevent large gatherings as Israelis celebrate the founding of the state.
As the nation celebrated, the country’s population had reached nearly 9.2 million, according to data released by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
Israel grew by 171,000 people since last year’s Independence Day. In the past year, 180,000 babies were born, 44,000 people died and 32,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel.
Israel’s population was described as “young,” with 28% aged 0-14 and 36.1% under the age of 19. More than 10% of Israel’s population—nearly 950,000 people—are under the age of 4, while 0.6% are over the age of 90—approximately 55,200 people.
Israel’s 6.806 million Jews comprise 74% of the population, with Arabs making up 21%. An additional 5% are largely comprised of non-Arab Christians.
In 2020, the five most populated cities were Jerusalem (936,047), Tel Aviv-Jaffa (461,352), Haifa (285,542), Rishon Letzion (254,238) and Petach Tikvah (248,005).
The annual Yom Hazikaron torch-lighting ceremony, a centerpiece of the nation’s shift from solemnity to the joy of Independence Day, was pre recorded for the first time at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery and took place without an audience present. Mount Herzl, along with all other military cemeteries in the country, was locked to all visitors to prevent gatherings on the annual remembrance day for Israel’s fallen.
Yom Hazikaron was marked in Israel with memorial sirens sounding at 11 a.m. to honor the memories of 23,646 Israeli soldiers, police and security officers and 3,134 terror victims who have fallen since the beginning of Israel’s history.
A national televised commemoration ceremony broadcast began at 11:02 a.m., started with a prayer for the dead by Israel Defense Forces Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim. An additional official ceremony honoring those who died in acts of terror took place at 1 p.m. at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
By JNS Staff and combined sources