Israel is celebrating 70 years since the modern Jewish state was established.

Parks and beaches were packed Thursday with people celebrating the country's Independence Day with barbecue and parties or by watching air force fly-bys or hiking in nature.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the country's annual Bible Quiz, in which young Jewish scholars from around the world compete.

Festivities began the night before when in sharp contrast, Israel abruptly crossed over from its melancholy Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and terrorism victims.

The grouping of the two days is intentional, to show the link between the costly wars Israel has fought and the establishment and survival of the Jewish state.

This year, festivities came amid regional tensions in Syria near Israel's northern frontier and along its southern Gaza border.