Israel fell silent at 11am Wednesday as the country marked Memorial Day with a two-minute siren echoing across the country in honor of its fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
This year's annual events were being held with minimal restrictions after last year's ceremonies were heavily scaled down due to the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bereaved families were given permission to visit military cemeteries across the country, unlike in 2020 when relatives of the fallen were banned from entering while Israel was at the peak of the pandemic.
Memorial Day events started at 8:30am with a ceremony at the National Hall For Israel's Fallen on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, where the names of the fallen soldiers were read out.
"The day on which there are no wars is unfortunately far away, and we will continue to carry out our mission, which is to defend the homeland and live on our sword as well," said Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the ceremony.
"Each fallen soldier, no matter rank, gender or origin, has a place," said Gantz, a former head of the IDF.
The siren was followed by a national remembrance ceremony for the fallen soldiers at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. Immediately after the siren, at 11:02am, there was a special IAF flyby over the hall with a missing member of the formation to honor the fallen.
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz were in attendance.
In apparent reference to the current tensions with Iran, Netanyahu said at the ceremony that Israel must not remain indifferent "to the threats of war and destruction made by our soul-seekers."
"If we had dealt with the danger on time back in 1973, it is very possible that we would have been spared masses of dead and wounded," Netanyahu said, referring to the disregarded warnings ahead of the Yom Kippur War.
"Thanks to the fallen, the heroes of the nation, we are marking the 73rd anniversary of revival, of establishment of the state and of a wonderful flourishing," he said.
The main memorial service for the victims of terror attacks will be held immediately afterward at 1pm also at Mount Herzl.
Since last year's Memorial Day, 112 names have been added to the list of fallen including 69 former soldiers who died as a result of injuries sustained during their service.
The national day of mourning ends at sundown Thursday, when the country switches from sadness to joy with the onset of Independence Day.