Middle East

Israel celebrates 69th birthday after solemn Memorial Day

In a jarring contrast, Israel is transitioning from the solemn remembrance of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism to joyous Independence Day celebrations.

With a ceremony Monday night, Israel began celebrating 69 years since the modern Jewish state was formed.

The grouping of mournful Memorial Day with Independence Day celebrations is intentional, to show the link between the costly wars Israel has fought and the establishment and survival of the Jewish state.

During the day, Israelis visited cemeteries and media broadcast documentaries about the country's wars and soldiers' recollections.

A siren rang out at 11 a.m. and Israelis stopped in their tracks to stand with their heads bowed to remember and honor the fallen.

At nightfall Israel switched moods with parties, BBQs, fireworks and other celebrations.