First Published:   20:32 , 05.06.08
Latest Update:   21:08 , 05.06.08


Sad Day
Photo: AP Israel remembers its fallen Photo: AP
click here to enlarge text click here to enlarge text
Israel remembers its fallen

A day of sorrow: Remembrance Day for Israel's 22,437 Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism opens with nationwide siren; Speaking at Western Wall ceremony, President Peres says Israel willing to pay price of peace

Day of sorrow: One day before Israel's 60th Independence Day celebrations, the State of Israel is honoring the memory of its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.


Remembrance Day opened with a minute-long nationwide siren, as Israelis observed a moment of silence in memory of 22,437 casualties starting from 1860 to the beginning of May of this year. The figure includes 1,634 people killed in terror attacks.


Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi were among the dignitaries attending the Remembrance Day ceremony at Jerusalem's Western Wall.


In his address, Peres said that "we are ready to pay for the day of peace, for smiling children, be they Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian, or Syrian."


"We dream of peace, without accepting dictates of surrender. We desire a handshake, but our enemies know we can pull the trigger in defense. We want to end the wars and continue the Zionist movement's vision, but our enemies realize that, if cornered, that vision will be carried upon the points of our bayonets, until peace comes."


Pillows wet with tears

During his speech, the president directly addressed bereaved families: "Soon you will return to your empty homes and to the pillows that are wet with tears…and in the morning, fatigued by the dreams of the night, you will take the photo albums that are partly yellowing out of deep drawers, and try to remember, and here and there a smile will come to your face while seeing one photo or another, but soon after the tears will repalce the laughter."


Meanwhile, Army Chief Ashkenazi turned his attention to Israel's youth, saying that "we have something to be proud of."


"The State of Israel on the brink of its seventh decade is a free and independent country that absorbs immigration. It has a powerful, large and deterring army that adheres to the value of being a people's army and grants equal opportunity to all," Ashkenazi said. "It is an army where most Israeli youths serve in due to a sense of mission and willingness to contribute."

"However, with a sober look at the future, and for the sake of the state's continued existence, I believe this is not enough," the chief of staff said. "We should unite as a country and as a society and go back to our roots."


Various ceremonies in memory of Israel's fallen soldiers and terror victims will be held across the country, including the annual "Singing at the Square" event at Tel Aviv's Rabin square.


Wednesday at 11 am, following another siren, official ceremonies will get underway at 43 military cemeteries. The main rally will be held at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl.