Israel marks 71st birthday with barbecues, air force shows

Israel is celebrating 71 years since the country was founded as a haven for Jews in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

People flocked to parks and beaches on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day, enjoying barbeques and watching air force flyovers.

The celebrations started as Israel transitioned from melancholy Memorial Day for fallen soldiers — a bittersweet confluence meant to remind the state what was gained from the sacrifice of war.

This year, an escalation with Gaza militants threatened to overshadow the festivities but a cease-fire took hold on Monday.

Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948, but marks the holiday according to the Hebrew calendar. Palestinians commemorate it next week as the anniversary of their "nakba," or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were uprooted in the war over Israel's creation.