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Israelis celebrate 65 years of independence

President Shimon Peres says Israel's wars have been just

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    Children dance during Israel's 65th Independence Day eve celebrations in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 15, 2013. Israel is celebrating its annual Independence Day, marking 64 years since the founding of the state in 1948. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

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    The mother of a victim reacts during Remembrance Day in the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, April 15, 2013. The sad atmosphere ends sharply at sundown when in jarring contrast, Israelis joyfully take to the streets for independence day celebrations with dancing, fireworks and parties. (AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center left, marks Remembrance Day in the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem, Israel, Monday, April 15, 2013. The sad atmosphere ends sharply at sundown when in jarring contrast, Israelis joyfully take to the streets for independence day celebrations with dancing, fireworks and parties. (AP Photo/Jim Hollander, Pool)

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    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, Israeli President Shimon Peres, second left, and Israeli military’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, fourth left, mark Israel's Independence Day celebration at the President's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, today.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, Israeli President Shimon Peres, second left, and Israeli military’s chief of staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, fourth left, mark Israel's Independence Day celebration at the President's residence in Jerusalem, Israel, today.

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JERUSALEM — Israel is celebrating 65 years of independence with barbeques, air force flyovers, and an international bible quiz.

Top Israeli leaders began today's festivities by singing peppy standards in a televised event recognizing Israeli soldiers.

In an address, President Shimon Peres said Israel’s enemies have tried for decades to destroy the Jewish state, and that Israel’s wars against them have been just. He said Israel would defend itself against dangers from Hezbollah and Hamas militants, and called Iran’s leadership one of “craziness.”

Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz said Israel’s army will continue to defend Israelis until “the day that peace comes.”

The festivities, which began Monday night, come just a day after the country mourned its war dead during its annual Remembrance Day commemorations.

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