Israel cancels fireworks for Independence Day over veterans' PTSD concerns

The country will on Thursday mark 74 years since its creation

Noisy firework displays, such as this one in Tel Aviv for Independence Day in 2018, have this year been cancelled in Israel over concerns by some military veterans who say the sound dredges up the horrors of battle. AP

Israel has cancelled firework displays for Independence Day over concerns from some military veterans that they may be reminded of gunfire in battle.

The country will on Thursday mark 74 years since its creation and fireworks are usually a cornerstone of the annual festivities.

But this year the main ceremony in Jerusalem will hold a silent pyrotechnic show instead of the usual spectacular fireworks finale, AP reported.

“The barrage of fireworks is the same as a burst of gunfire for us,” Ehud Amiton, a former soldier with PTSD who has worked to cancel the firework displays, told Israeli Army Radio on Monday.

“We don’t oppose the celebrations, we oppose the noise.”

Tel Aviv, where residents usually climb to rooftops to watch displays, has also scrapped fireworks this year.

'They have paid a heavy price'

Israel’s Culture Minister Hili Tropper last month said it was Israel’s duty to respect the former fighters and recognise their struggle with PTSD.

“For most Israelis, fireworks may be a nice image in the sky, but for them [veterans] it is the sound of gunfire and battle,” Mr Tropper wrote on Facebook last month. “They have fought enough. They have paid a heavy price. This year we are reaching out to them.”

Independence Day in Israel comes a day after the country's Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

It is one of the most sombre occasions of Israel's calendar, as bereaved families visit cemeteries and the country comes to a standstill for a solemn moment to remember the dead. Restaurants, theatres and other entertainment venues close, and TV and radio stations broadcast melancholy music and stories about Israel’s wars and the dead.

The decision to cancel fireworks in many cities drew criticism from some nationalists, who saw it as an attempt to scale back Israeli patriotism.

“There is some interest here to temper Independence Day celebrations,” Yair Netanyahu, the son of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a prominent nationalist voice, wrote on Twitter. “There have been fireworks on Independence Day for 70 years and there was never any problem with it!”

Updated: May 02, 2022, 8:35 AM
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