An interesting read on fireworks from by Lital Levin:
A Brief History of Fireworks in the Holy Land
An Air France plane touched down at Lod in mid-April 1958, carrying 12 French men on a special mission. Like many French delegations in those years – when France was Israel’s main military supplier – this one also specialized in operating weapons and explosives. However, they had come not to adjust artillery sights but rather to show Israel’s 10th Independence Day committee how to set off fireworks.
It wouldn’t be the first Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration with fireworks, but it would be the first with the biggest experts in the field, from the country that wrote the first book on the subject – military engineer Amedee-Francois Frezier’s 1706 tome “Treatise on Fireworks.”
The fireworks, from the Italian Ruggieri fireworks firm, were shipped by sea. The head of the factory himself came to Israel to take orders from every local council in the country that wanted to put on a display, and the crates were labeled with their destinations: Jewish communities, of course, but also Arab ones, such as Umm al-Fahm, which had ordered 4,000 lirot-worth.
Ruggieri employees themselves set off the fireworks in the three main cities on Independence Day, and supervised the proceedings in other locales. The Israel Defense Forces held a course for fireworks operators, to eliminate the need for foreign experts in the future.
One night, around 10 days before Independence Day in 1959, many Tel Avivians were frightened by the thunderous sounds of explosives echoing through the city. The following day’s Haaretz reassured readers, explaining that the noise was because “new types of fireworks were being tested.” Ehpraim Wolf, a former sapper from the Army Corps of Engineers, was appointed to oversee the fireworks sector – and promptly changed his last name to Dinur (“of fire” in Aramaic – the Hebrew term for fireworks is zikukei dinur ).
In 1963 there were no official fireworks displays on Independence Day, as a mark of respect for Israel’s second president, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, who had recently passed away. The fireworks were put away for the following year, but by then local councils were demanding greater numbers of them.
For 25 years fireworks displays were the province of officialdom, until the summer of 1987, when Haaretz correspondent Haim Handwerker reported that private citizens “had found a new, colorful way to celebrate their personal events and celebrations, using fireworks.”
Fireworks had indeed spread to private hands, leading the government to relinquish its monopoly over the industry. Amira Shraga and her husband Shmuel, of Moshav Liman in the Western Galilee, have been in the fireworks business for 22 years. They import and operate fireworks, and their two daughters are maintaining the family business.
This year, Shmuel is setting off the display for the Gezer Regional Council. “I’m already a grandmother, and I don’t have the energy for it. It’s hard work,” Amira Shraga said. The purple fireworks are her favorites: “When they fire katyusha rockets at us, I always say that ours are prettier. Let’s give Hezbollah a colorful explosives show.”
She says, with some regret, that today’s fireworks don’t have the power they once had, as a result of regulatory controls aimed at reducing the noise and the danger.
“Back in the day, we worked a lot with shells, which explode up high and create an overhead effect,” Amira added. “Those things don’t exist anymore. Now there are only ‘beehives,’ which are fired from the ground. They can be beautiful, too, but the prettiest displays are the ones that combine beehives with ‘bombs.'”
Nearly 50 years after the first French fireworks delegation came to Israel, the French returned to Tel Aviv, this time to kick off “Voila!,” a season of French culture in 2006. The biggest fireworks display in the history of the state cost 250,000 euro. It consisted of 15,000 fireworks, fired over a 15-minute span from a barge in the Mediterranean. Shmuel Shraga, who assisted the French crew, said at the time that it contained more fireworks than all the displays over Mt. Herzl in the course of 30 Independence Day celebrations.