"In spite of the opposition of our enemies, Israel signed peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and despite the difficulties, we will continue our efforts to complete the circle of peace with the rest of our neighbors, until we are successful," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening during a memorial service in honor of Israel's fallen soldiers.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Supreme Court President Dorit Beinish were also on hand for the ceremony, which was held at Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill.
"Our existence as a nation and country depends on our unity," the PM said. He vowed that the government would spare no effort to "track down the missing Israeli soldiers and bring kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit home.
"We are a nation that desires life, and as such and we will continue to strengthen our shield. The IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet, Border Police and all the arms of the security forces guarantee (our) security and the conditions for peace," he said.
Addressing the bereaved families who attended the ceremony, Netanyahu said "the battlefields of Israel's ongoing war, in which the protectors of the land have fallen, are scattered throughout the country and its borders. It did not help those who hate Israel. The State of Israel triumphed.
"The price we have paid and are still paying is unbearable, I know," the PM said. "My family has also been struck by bereavement; your sorrow is my sorrow. I feel the pain deep in my heart and carry with me the memory, the yearning and the burden of the loss."
The PM's brother Jonathan was killed during the 1976 IDF raid on Entebbe to free Israeli hostages.
Israel's Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day 2009 will be held on this week in memoriam of the nation's 22,570 fallen, both soldiers and civilians.
The count is comprised of those who gave their lives for the State of Israel from 1860 and on, and includes members of the Jewish Brigade and all branches of the Israeli armed forces – the military, police, the Shin Bet and the Mossad. The past year has seen 133 new names added to the somber count.