Israel was set on Wednesday to honor its soldiers who fell in battle defending the country and victims of terror with ceremonies, memorials and sirens hours before the country celebrates its 74th Independence Day.
A two-minute siren will sound across the country at 11am, followed by state memorial services held in the country's 52 military cemeteries nationwide, attended by bereaved families, public figures and representatives of the government, police and the security forces. The main service will be held at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem at 1pm.
Israel remembers the 24,068 members of its military, police, security agencies and their pre-state precursors who have given their lives defending the homeland over the past century and a half and 4,217 civilians who have been killed in terrorist acts since 1881.
Since last year's Memorial Day, 56 more servicemembers were added to the count. Additionally, 33 civilians were killed in terrorist acts over the past year and four more have succumbed to wounds sustained in attacks from previous years.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz attended a name-reading ceremony in honor of the fallen at the National Memorial Hall For Israel's Fallen on Mount Herzl where representatives of the IDF, the police and the prison service read out the names of the fallen servicemembers engraved on the bricks that make up the walls of the memorial hall.
"People of Israel, all these faces and names that stand here before us, are waiting for us to read them out loud, proving that their memory stays with us," he said.
"May we use the memory this year to continue growing as individuals and as a society, to respect each other, to accept our differences, to strengthen Israeli society that is made up of these thousands of bricks that unite us all as a strong and vigorous nation.
"May we remember that we have no other country, we have no other state, and we have no other Israeli society. May the memory of the fallen be blessed and their names and stories kept and engraved in our hearts forever."
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett released a video statement for the bereaved families.
"The sacrifice of the fallen obliges us, the living, to do better and be more united; to conquer our divisions and to love one another as well, and perhaps especially, when we do not agree on everything," he said.
"Among the fallen, there are religious and secular people, right and left, Jews and non-Jews. They lived together, served together, fought together and died together. And they would probably like us to continue living together.
Your loved ones have paid the ultimate price in the continuous struggle for our independence, for our security here in this country, and we will continue to do everything to ensure that their way, which is the way of the whole nation, is the one that prevails."