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HAIFA, May 5. /TASS/. Several thousand people joined the World War II veterans’ march and the Immortal Regiment public rally in Haifa, Israel’s business and manufacturing center, a TASS correspondent said in an eyewitness report on the event.
Waves of Red Army, Israeli and Russian flags rippled through the crowd, as the participants filled downtown Herzl Street.
Rank-and-file residents of the city, university and public school students, soldiers, shop owners and their customers, and the staff and visitors of restaurants met the participants in the rally with a round of applause and joined the column.
In line with tradition that has taken shape over the years, Russian-speaking legislators from the Israeli Knesset, city officials and members of the diplomatic corps attended the rally.
Avner Korin, the press secretary of Haifa’s Department for Absorption told TASS the tradition of parades timed for the VE-Day emerged in Haifa 13 years ago.
"The first march of veterans was held in 2004 and in 2005, when we marked the 60th anniversary since the Great Victory with a parade on Herzl Street that was closed for automobile traffic for forty minutes for this purpose," he said.
"During the initial years of the parades, the city residents began to come to them with the portraits of their family members, relatives and friends - not only the ones who had fought on the Soviet Front during WWII but also those who had perished in concentration camps and ghettos.
Natan Grinberg, the coordinator of the Immortal Regiment rallies in Israel, say they would be held in about twenty cities and towns this year stretching from the very North to the very South of the country.
Israel joined the Immortal Regiment international public movement in 2014.
"We’re paying tribute today to the people who fought on the frontlines, who worked on the home front, who made this Great Victory possible but who didn’t live through to our day," Alexander Shein, Russian ambassador to Israel said at the meeting in Haifa. "Dear veterans, today with give our praise to you, the people who lived through the harsh tests of time."
"You’re the eyewitnesses and participants of the greatest and simultaneously most tragic events of the 20th century," he said. "You accomplished exploits and managed to win and save the world from the plague of Nazism. You saved the Jewish people from full extermination and other peoples, from full enslavement."
On the same day, an auto and bike rally devoted to the 72nd anniversary of Victory in WWII started from the country’s northernmost town of Metula. It will cross the entire Israel north to south and will reach the beach city of Eilat on the Red Sea.
"Our rally commemorates those who worked towards the defeat of fascism," a spokesman for the Immortal Regiment action organizing committee told TASS. "We’ll carry the banner of victory through the whole country and will remind the world about who made the most decisive contribution to the righteous cause."