Yom Ha'atzmaut centers around the declaration of the establishment of the State of Israel by the Jewish leadership led by future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on 14 May 1948.
Independence was declared eight (8) hours before the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, which was due to finish on 15 May 1948.
The operative paragraph of the Declaration of the Establishment of State of Israel of 14 May 1948 expresses the declaration to be by virtue of our natural and historic right and on the strength of the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly. The operative paragraph concludes with the words of Ben-Gurion, where he thereby declares the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.
The new state was quickly recognised by the Soviet Union, the United States de facto, and many other countries, but not by the surrounding Arab states, which marched with their troops into the area of the former British Mandate.
Most of the official events take place in Israel's proclaimed capital city Jerusalem, and are broadcast live on television.
Yom Ha'atzmaut eve
An official ceremony is held every year on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem on the evening of Yom Ha'atzmaut. The ceremony includes a speech by the speaker of the Knesset (the Israeli Parliament), artistic performances, a Flag of Israel, forming elaborate structures (such as a Menorah, Magen David) and the ceremonial lighting of twelve torches, one for each of the Tribes of Israel. Every year a dozen Israeli citizens, who made a significant social contribution in a selected area, are invited to light the torches. Many cities hold outdoor performances in cities' squares featuring leading Israeli singers and fireworks displays. Streets around the squares are closed to cars, allowing people to sing and dance in the streets.
Yom Ha'atzmaut day
Israeli families, regardless of religious observance or affiliation, celebrate with picnics and barbecues. Balconies are decorated with Israeli flags, and small flags are attached to car windows. Some leave the flags hoisted until after Yom Yerushalayim. Israeli Television channels air the official events live, and classic cult Israeli movies and skits are shown.
Yom Ha'atzmaut is celebrated on the 5th day of Iyar in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the day in which Israel independence was proclaimed, when David Ben-Gurion publicly read the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The corresponding Gregorian date was 14 May 1948.
If the 5th of Iyar falls on a Friday or Saturday, the celebrations are moved up to the preceding Thursday. This rule has been effective since 1951. If the 5th of Iyar is on a Monday, the festival is postponed to Tuesday. This rule has been effective since 2004, in order to avoid potential violation of Sabbath laws by preparing for Yom Hazikaron or Yom Ha'atzmaut on a Shabbat.