Israel's Leaders Praise Troops on Independence Day

By Staff | May 10, 2011 | 6:11 AM EDT

Jerusalem (AP) - Israeli leaders have gathered with soldiers to mark the country's 63rd Independence Day, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling Israel a model in the global fight against terrorism.

Netanyahu also praised the country's troops on Tuesday as he and President Shimon Peres gathered with a group of uniformed soldiers, singing songs and sharing memories of wars Israel has fought.

Peres reminisced about Israel's 1948 war for independence, recalling that fighters were poorly equipped and fought against the odds.

He added that "today Israel is a small but exemplary and wonderful stronghold."

Independence Day is a joyful celebration in Israel. Palestinians will mark the occasion next week with a day of mourning.