The independence of the modern State of Israel was declared on May 14, 1948 (5th of Iyar, 5708 - ה' באייר תש"ח), the day on which the British Mandate over Palestine expired (see History of Israel).
Fittingly, Independence Day was instituted as a national Holiday on the day of declaration, 5th of Iyar, according to the Hebrew Calender by a Knesset Law in 1949. Independence Day is celebrated one day after the Memorial Day.
Independence Day is changed for the following instances:
- If Iyar 5th falls on a Saturday, the holiday will be moved to Iyar 3rd of that year.
- If Iyar 5th falls on a Friday, the holiday will be moved to Iyar 4th of that year.
- If Iyar 5th falls on a Monday, the holiday will be moved to Iyar 6th of that year.
Independence Day celebrations start with a ceremony on the eve of Independence Day at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. A ceremony of lighting 12 torches by selected citizens marks the end of the Memorial Day events and opens the Independence Day. The ceremony also includes art performances and a flagship show, and ends with a fireworks display. On the eve of the holiday, entertainment stages are set up in city centers.
On the morning of the holiday, the President of the State holds a reception for outstanding soldiers, and at noon the World Bible Quiz for Youth is held at the Jerusalem Theater. The day's events close with the Israel Prize ceremony.
During the holiday, many Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) units open their gates and present visitors with weapons and ammunition used by the IDF. Synagogues hold prayers thanking the almighty for the miracle of the rebirth of the State of Israel as envisioned by the prophets of the Bible.