As Israelis started celebrating the ‘Independence Day’, Palestinian areas were put under tight closure.

Israel has been placing the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during all Israeli national celebrations and Jewish holydays under total closure, as a policy.

During the coming four days, Palestinians will be denied access to Jerusalem, except of specially permitted humanitarian cases, and security inspections at dozens of military check posts within Palestinian territories will be upgraded.

On the same date, Palestinians commemorate the Nakba day, which is the begining of their exile and the destruction of around 420 Palestinian villages in 1948.

On the other hand, fireworks filled the sky over the settlement of Har Homa, built on the confiscated land of Abu Ghneim mountain in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

The fireworks created an invisible border to the world, but very visible for the Palestinians who are being locked in their open-air prisons.

Behind these expanding borders, Israeli leaders warn of civil war that could erupt as a result of the disengagement plan, under which Israel will withdraw from the Gaza Strip settlements and four small West Bank settlements.

‘More than anything, I am very fearful that this year will be one of civil conflict,’ Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said at the state torch-lighting ceremony at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. The event signals the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Israel’s 57th Independence Day.

If blood is spilled over the disengagement plan, said Rivlin, ‘How will we be able to fly the blue and white flag here next year?’

16 torches were lit by different Israeli and Jewish figures in the ceremony.  Canadian Jewish businessman and philanthropist Charles Bronfman, who co-founded the birthright Israel program providing free trips to Israel, lit one, whereas Azzam Azzam, an Israeli Druze who spent eight years in an Egyptian prison on charges of spying for Israel.

Israeli president Moshe Katsav paid attribute to the Israeli military for the realization of the Jewish dream.

‘You are the essence of the Jewish dream’ Katsav told the army’s veterans at the annual reception he hosted to honor commanders of all of Israel’s battles.

The celebrations at the President’s residence in Jerusalem include a festive gathering for past and present army commanders with the president. After that, there is a tribute to 120 of this year’s outstanding soldiers.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his deputy Shimon Peres were also present at the reception.

Sharon pledged to continue to do his utmost to bring peace to Israel. 

‘Perhaps we will attain peace, but it is very difficult and very complex’ he said.

Following the praising of the Israeli army by Katsav and promises for peace by Sharon, Peres describes Iran as the main threat to Israel’s peace, and calls Lebanon to rid itself of Hezbollah to recover its independence.

On the other hand, some Jewish activists have chosen to remind Israelis of a different thing.


Residents of Tel Aviv woke up to find posters of some Palestinians killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, during the past four years.