A two-minute siren brought life to a standstill in Israel on Monday at 10 am as Israelis observed an annual moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Nazis and their collaborators.
Israeli drivers honor Holocaust victims (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Throughout the day memorial ceremonies were held at all schools and institutions across Israel and a special service took place at the National Military Cemetery at Mt. Herzl honoring the Jewish volunteers who died fighting in World War II.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Acting President and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and resigning Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi and other high-ranking officials attended the reading of victims' names at the Knesset.
Alongside the ceremonies in Israel, hundreds of Israeli youths will participate in the March of the Living in Poland, retracing the path of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death marches.
Minister of Pensioners' Affairs Rafi Eitan will represent the government at the annual ceremony held at Auschwitz following the completion of the march.
2006 March of the Living (archive photo: AP )
Olmert: Not everyone has learned Holocaust lesson
On Sunday evening Israel's leadership gathered at Yad Vashem to mark the commencement of Holocaust Memorial Day.
This year, there is a special emphasis on the few Holocaust survivors still living. Echoing this, is the traditional emphasis of the importance of the Jewish nation to fight against racism, and survive.
Olmert, a keynote speaker at the ceremony, warned of those who "had not yet learned the lesson the Holocaust. Many gather at respectable academic institutions, with hatred of Israel blinding them."
"Most of the world population is aware of the Holocaust and aware of the evil agenda of Holocaust deniers," he said, "they withhold from the Jewish people the right to a sovereign state. They are the first to find an excuse for any atrocity committed against Israeli civilians and the loudest in censuring defensive operations of the State of Israel."
Yad Vashem Committee Chairman Tommy Lapid echoed these sentiments, noting "(Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad thinks six million Jews are not enough."
"The world advises us to be compromising, to take risks for peace. What will they do if the other side doesn't behave as they desire? Will they say, sorry, we were wrong?" Lapid continued. "Our message to the world is: Think about the Holocaust, because we think of it every day."
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen Gabi Ashkenazi also tied together past and present Jewish struggles for survival, saying "the fighters in the ghetto and the partisans are an inspiration for Israeli military commanders."