Dozens of friends, relatives and former colleagues flocked to Menachem Begin's small home Saturday to mark the 75th birthday of the former prime minister, who became a recluse after his sudden resignation five years ago.

The steady stream of visitors bearing flowers, a bronze plaque and dozens of cakes created a small traffic jam on narrow Tzemach Street near the Jerusalem Forest.Security agents screened the guests, who included Benyamin Netanyahu, the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and a rising star of the Likud bloc that Begin once led. Popular Israeli singer Yoram Gaon also attended.

"He looks great, but of course he should gain weight," said visitor Matti Droblas, an official of the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency and a friend of Begin's.

The former prime minister was in good spirits and rose to greet each visitor by name, Droblas said.

Begin resigned abruptly in 1983, at the height of Israel's military involvement in Lebanon.