President Shimon Peres led senior members of the Israeli government, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a rousing chorus of Yom Ha’atzmaut songs during the celebrations at his home.
The special celebration was attended by Mr Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkenazi, the army chief of staff.
The songs were specially selected by each of the leaders. They entertained a crowd of 120 “outstanding” IDF soldiers, IDF and Palmach veterans.
President Peres told the soldiers: “I look at you and see 2,000 years of pogroms and bloodshed, of triumphs and achievements, of grief and joy, of tears in your eyes and hope in your hearts. Fearless combatants. Soldiers who have not lost human values.
“You are the sons of a small nation, with great achievements. You are the state of Israel.
“You, the parents, sons and daughters, our uniform-clad sons, Jews and non-Jews.
“You, who know that we have a passion for life, and who can, when necessary, fight fire with fire, and emerge victorious.”
Foreign ambassadors will attend the Independence Day celebrations later this evening at President Peres’ home Beit HaNasi in Jerusalem.
The Queen, US President Barack Obama and heads of state from Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, Mexico, Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Egypt, Turkey and Sweden sent their congratulations on Israel’s 62nd anniversary.
Queen Elizabeth wrote: ““As you celebrate your National Day, I have much pleasure in sending my warmest greetings to Your Excellency and the people of Israel, together with my best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous future.”
President Obama said: “The bonds between our two great countries are deep and enduring. Our relationship is based on mutual values and interests. The United States remains unwavering in its commitment to Israel’s security as we work towards our common goal of a lasting peace.
“Israel’s prosperity is a reflection of the hard work and ingenuity of its people. I wish the state of Israel a peaceful future so that the dream of Israelis and their forefathers can continue to be realised.”
Egyptian President Mubarak wrote: “I am pleased to congratulate as you are celebrating the Independence Day, and I would like to seize this occasion to renew my aspiration to see your efforts putting the peace process in the Middle East back on its right track, in order to end the circle of violence and bloodshed.”
Turkish President Abdullah Gül wrote to President Peres: “I would like to take this opportunity to repeat and confirm our desire to advance relations with Israel on a basis of mutual interests and by contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East.”