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THE WEEK AHEAD: Israel moves from grief to celebration, observing both Memorial and Independence Day; Muslims conclude Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr feast

Here are the stories we are watching...

Israeli soldiers place Israeli flags on the graves of fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, Apr. 11, 2021. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Israel commemorates Memorial Day for fallen soldiers

  • The Jewish state celebrates its 74th birthday

  • Muslims celebrate end of Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr 

  • Possible breakthrough in the war in Yemen

ISRAELIS PAY TRIBUTE TO FALLEN SOLDIERS, TERROR VICTIMS ON YOM HAZIKARON

Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day) is the day of national remembrance in Israel to commemorate soldiers and others who lost their lives in defense of the State of Israel. This includes victims of terrorism – a list which has grown in recent weeks.

Ceremonies begin at 8 p.m. on Memorial Day eve – Tuesday this week – with a one-minute siren that will sound across the country. Israeli citizens stop whatever they are doing – even driving – and stand in silent tribute to those who have died. Restaurants and places of enjoyment will close and remain so for most of the following day as well.

After the first siren, the State Memorial Ceremony begins at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City. It is traditionally attended by the prime minister, defense minister, chief of the general staff of the Israel Defense Forces and the president.

On Wednesday, a two-minute siren will sound at 11 a.m. and state memorial services will begin in all military cemeteries. These are attended by bereaved families, government representatives, police and security forces. The main service is held at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.

ISRAEL CELEBRATES 74 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

As Memorial Day events conclude, Israel makes a sharp transition from national grief to national celebration and marks Yom HaAtzmaut – Independence Day. The Jewish state will turn 74 this year and kicks off festivities in an annual national ceremony that takes place on the eve of Yom HaAtzmaut at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

The juxtaposition of Yom HaZikaron right before Yom HaAtzmaut is intended to remind Israelis of the sacrifice that soldiers have made to secure the safety and stability of the Jewish state.

Independence Day celebrations are marked in every city with fireworks, concerts and parties. The following day is a national holiday that traditionally involves barbecues – mangal in Hebrew – the smell of which is evident in the air wherever you go.

The Israeli Air Force will perform its iconic flyover as part of the day’s celebration, attracting crowds across the country. This year, for the first time, two Emirati civilian carriers – Ethihad Airways and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi – were supposed to join the flyover, but decided to cancel their participation in protest over tensions on the Temple Mount during Ramadan.

EID AL-FITR MARKS THE END OF RAMADAN

Muslim worshippers in Israel and around the world will celebrate the end of Ramadan with Eid al-Fitr, which begins on Sunday evening. The three-day long “festival of breaking the fast” concludes 29 or 30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting. A common greeting during Eid al-Fitr is eid mubarak, which means blessed holiday.

The timing of the eid occurring during Israel's national days is considered a potential flashpoint for additional clashes. Israel will increase its security presence around Jerusalem and at al-Aqsa Mosque. Israeli military and police officials, as well as top ministers, met with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week to discuss security measures ahead of time.

SAUDI COALITION TO RELEASE HOUTHI PRISONERS

The two-month truce deal in the Yemen War that went into effect earlier this month is expected to deepen as the two Muslim countries enter the holiday. According to Reuters, the Saudi-led coalition said it would release 163 prisoners from Yemen's Iran-backed Houthi rebels, who fought against the Kingdom. The coalition had already begun taking measures to release the prisoners in coordination with the Red Cross, as part of a humanitarian initiative.

The report said that the warring sides have been discussing a possible prisoner swap under United Nations auspices. A Houthi official said last month that such a swap could free 1,400 Houthi prisoners in return for 823 coalition prisoners, including 16 Saudis and three Sudanese.

This week we are also keeping an eye on these developing stories:

  • ... Will clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces continue at the Temple Mount, as Jordan puts pressure on the Israeli government to relinquish control of the site?

 

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

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