57th Independence Day

Wednesday, May 11, 2005 | 
Israel celebrated its 57th Independence Day, with dancing in the streets and fireworks displays across the country. Beaches, hotels and national parks are packed for the long holiday weekend. Security is tight. Israel has sealed off Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip amid concerns that Palestinian terrorists might try to mar the holiday with an attack. Some 60,000 Israelis celebrated the holiday in Gaza, in solidarity with 8,000 settlers slated for evacuation this summer. They dedicated a new synagogue at the settlement of Neve Dekalim, sending a message that they intend to stay. In the keynote speech at the main Independence Day ceremony here in Jerusalem, Knesset (parliament) Speaker Reuven Rivlin said the Gaza withdrawal plan is tearing the nation apart. "What I fear most of all," he said, "is that this will be a year of civil war."

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