Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday morning with a two-minute memorial siren at 11 a.m. commemorating the 23,646 fallen members of the security forces and 3,134 victims of terrorist attacks.
At 11:02 a.m., the official commemoration ceremony began at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl with a prayer for the dead by IDF Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim.
Israel’s Memorial Day is marked annually with candle-lighting ceremonies, melancholy music on the radio, and newspaper features and TV programs about those who died.
The Wednesday morning official ceremony was joined by families of the fallen, soldiers from across the army’s units and divisions, as well as the nation’s leaders, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chief rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court chief justice Miriam Naor, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, lawmakers and high schoolers from the Jerusalem area.
Since 1860, when the first Jewish neighborhood was established outside Jerusalem’s Old City walls, a total of 23,646 men and women have died while serving in the security services of Israel and the pre-state Jewish community, according to official figures.
In all, 71 new names were added over the past year to the roster of those who died defending the country. Thirty of those were disabled veterans who passed away due to complications from injuries sustained during their service. The total tally also includes soldiers who died in car accidents, from suicide and from other causes off the battlefield.
Twelve names were also added to the list of terror victims who were killed in attacks.
A separate official ceremony honoring the 3,134 who died in acts of terror will begin at 1 p.m. at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Police warned that road closures and increased traffic were likely to surround the country’s 52 military cemeteries and hundreds of smaller military sections in civilian cemeteries nationwide to accommodate some 1.5 million Israelis expected to pay their respects at the gravesides of fallen soldiers and others killed in Israel’s wars and terror attacks.
The memorial services began the previous evening with a one-minute siren at 8 p.m. Tuesday and the official state ceremony held at the Western Wall, though some local events began earlier, including an official event for fallen soldiers at Jerusalem’s Yad Labanim, or Memorial for the Sons, attended by Netanyahu.
“We will not cease for a moment to work for the country your children fought for,” Rivlin told the bereaved families at the Western Wall on Tuesday night, stressing that the military was above any political disagreement.
“We did not leap into the tunnels as right-wing or left-wing, we did not lie in the trenches as the periphery and moshav communities, we did not storm the enemy as kibbutzim, villages and cities,” the president said.
Times of Israel