The IDF military parades were conducted in Israel’s first 25 years and were canceled after 1973 due to financial concerns. In 1975, on the country’s 25th Day of Independence, the IAF launched its first flyover which continues to this day to be the central military event of the holiday.
Incidentally, the 1975 flyover was the biggest in the state’s history, with 400 aircraft. Nowadays, Israelis crane their necks for an hour around noon on Independence Day to see about 25 crafts, many of which are choppers and refueling Boeings.
The first IDF parade took place during the 1948 War of Independence, on July 27, 1948, on Allenby and Ben Yehuda Streets in Tel Aviv (those two streets run from south to north Tel Aviv, and back in 1948 comprised the entire length of the First Hebrew City).
The second parade took place in 1949, on Israel’s first Independence Day, again in Tel Aviv. It was later nicknamed “The parade that did not march,” because the patriotic crowds ran into the parade’s path and basically jammed it. Those were simpler times.
Starting with the third parade in 1950, the IDF parades were held on Independence Day, with the last in that string conducted in 1968. Citing financial concerns, it was then decided that the IDF parade should only be held on special occasions, and the last such occasion was Israel’s 25th Day of Independence, in May of 1973. Little did the citizens of Israel know that in a few months, their country’s very existence would be challenged by invading Egyptian and Syrian armies.
Finally, on Jerusalem Day of 1997, the IDF launched another parade marking the golden jubilee since Israel’s declaration of independence, and the 30th anniversary of the IDF’s liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Since then, in lieu of a parade, the IDF offers weapon exhibitions around the country on Independence Day, but those are stationary and basically offer small (and big) children an opportunity to run in and out of tanks and other mortar vehicles.
KKL-JNF’s photographers were on hand in the early years to document those IDF parades, and now, on the occasion of the Independence Day celebrations (starting Wednesday night), they sent us, for the first time, a few historical photos of those proud moments.