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Israel marks muted Independence Day in the shadow of Hamas' Oct 7 attack

Israel's Independence Day 2024 (Photo: GPO)

The Jewish state celebrated its 76th Independence Day on Monday evening with nationwide ceremonies, including a state torch-lighting ceremony on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.

While the annual Independence Day is typically a time of celebration, this year's event was subdued following the terror attack on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists killed over 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped more than 250 people. Approximately 130 hostages remain captive in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that this year’s event was strikingly different.

“This is not a normal Independence Day. The war is still in progress,” Netanyahu stated in his pre-recorded video message. Placing the Oct. 7 attack in a historical context of worldwide antisemitism, Netanyahu emphasized that Israel is characterized by “the spirit of an ancient people who refuse to die.”

“Thanks to this spirit, we defeated our enemies and secured our existence. Today we are infinitely stronger,” Netanyahu argued, referring to Israel’s powerful military and innovative high-tech sector.

One day before, in his Memorial Day public address, Netanyahu stressed that the State of Israel is currently fighting for its “existence, liberty, security and prosperity” while facing the Iranian-backed terrorist militias Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south.

"It's us or them – Israel or the monsters of Hamas,” the prime minister stated. “God willing, will ensure our existence and our future. But the price we are paying and that generations before us paid is heavy,” Netanyahu added.

Israeli Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana addressed the remaining 132 hostages still held in captivity in Gaza.

“The State of Israel was not there on October 7 in its full strength and power as we all expected it to be, but since then, it has been working every day to return you home to your families,” Ohana said, noting that “all of those serving in the Israeli security forces are fighting tirelessly for your release.”

“All Israelis await your return. All synagogues in Israel and in the Diaspora are praying for your well-being. We will not despair and we will not give up. Do not lose hope,” Ohana concluded.

Many Israelis were not in a festive mood this year. Those who were hardest hit by the Oct. 7 onslaught held an alternative 'torch-dousing' ceremony in the city of Binyamina. Many of the participants feel that the State and the government have abandoned them since Oct. 7

Sharon Sharabi, whose two brothers Eli and Yossi were abducted by Hamas terrorists, articulated feelings that were shared by many participants.

“We don’t feel independence tonight, but we feel each other and that everyone here is looking at the person next to them and respecting them,” said Sharon Sharabi, whose two brothers, Eli and Yossi, were abducted into Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Yossi was later confirmed to have been killed by Hamas.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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