Israel celebrates unusual 72nd Independence Day due to lockdown

Jerusalem, Apr 29 (efe-epa).- Israel marked its 72nd Independence Day on Wednesday with celebrations from balconies or online amid coronavirus lockdown measures.

The usual events such as festivals, barbecues or walks around the countryside were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Festivities for the country’s most important holiday of the year began on Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday.

Israel declared independence on 14 May 1948 and the date moves every year according to the Hebrew calendar, in which days begin in the evening.

Every year Israeli families flock to beaches, forests, lakes and parks to spend the holiday, which is important to both religious and secular Jews, outdoors together.

This year there were images of empty stress across the country, with police patrols instead of children running around.

Celebrations were restricted to the internet instead of huge public events where strangers would normally think nothing of embracing each other without a mask.

The restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus have been hard for Israeli citizens, who are used to going all-out in celebrating their biggest national holiday.

A government decision to impose a curfew from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday night was not well received by some social groups.

The restriction took effect from 5 pm local time and will run until 8 pm on Wednesday, a period of 27 hours when Israelis cannot go more than 100 metres beyond their homes if it is not for a medical necessity.

Public transportation has also been suspended and businesses will remain closed.

The country has been de-escalating its quarantine measures, which some have criticised for being overly cautious as Israel has only reported 212 Covid-19 deaths and more than 15,500 infections out of a population of nine million.

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