Israel marked its annual Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day Wednesday,
with a series of national ceremonies.
The memory of the nation's 22,993 fallen soldiers and victims of terror was observed with a two minute siren, which sounded nationwide at 11 am.
The main State ceremony, at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, followed. President Shimon Peres,
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz
were in attendance.
"My brothers and sisters in grief, I know how each one of you feels. I am one of you," Netanyahu said, referring to the loss of his brother, Yonatan Netnayahu, who was killed in action during Operation Entebbe.
"(…) Yoni I miss you every day, in the little moments and the big ones, in the happy moments and the sad ones. This is how all of us feel… I know that thanks to those who have died, we live."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
took part in a memorial service at Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul Cemetery: "If there is any consolation to the pain, it is in knowing the loss was not for naught.
Observing the siren on Ayalon Highway (Photo: AFP)
"Our enemies near and far have not accepted our existence, but they are facing a state that is stronger than ever, a state that would protects its sovereignty in any situation," he said, adding, "Let us hope for a day when soldiers are no longer sent to the battlefield," he said.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin
spoke at a service held on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives: "Anyone who has never stepped foot between these graves won't understand what Jerusalem is, won't realize how deep it is rooted in our hearts."
Ceremony at Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery (Photo: Moti Komchi)
He added: "We didn't return to the mountain only to leave it one day. We returned to Jerusalem in order to live in it, to build it and be built by it."
The Israel Police held its memorial service on Mt. Herzl, honoring 1,291 police officers who gave their life in the line of duty, just prior to the State ceremony.
"We are gathered here as one family," Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said. "The Israel Police does everything to support the families left behind. We cherish the memories of our loved ones."
Remembrance Day events began on Tuesday evening, as Israelis nationwide observed a moment of silence in honor of the country's fallen.
The memorial siren was followed by a State ceremony at the Western Wall, led by President Peres and IDF Chief Gantz.
Boaz Fyler, Omri Ephraim, Gilda Morag and Neri Brenner contributed to this report
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