The upcoming March of the Living in Auschwitz will go on as planned, while also honoring the victims of a plane crash that claimed the life of Poland's president, the initiative director's says.
"In the keynote event we shall give expression to the sorrow, mourning, and condolences over the disaster that happened here," March of the Living Director Aharon Tamir said. "We will attach black ribbons to our flags in order to properly honor the Poles' pain. President Kaczynski was a great friend of the March and received delegations. I personally met him three times."
At this time, thousands of Israelis are already in Poland ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day. President Shimon Peres' advisor Yoram Dori, who is also in Warsaw with the Israeli delegations, told Ynet that a grim sense of disaster is apparent on the Polish capital's streets.
"Thousands of people poured to the square outside the presidential palace with flowers in their hands and lit candles," he said. "Poland is trying to digest this major disaster."
Dori added that at this time it is unclear whether the March of the Living will proceed as planned.
Who will attend funeral?
Meanwhile, Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz delivered an address in memory of the Polish plane crash victims during a ceremony in Krakow honoring Righteous Gentiles.
The minister spoke of the late president's "special friendship" with Israel, and stressed that Kaczynski was "undoubtedly one of Israel's greatest friends."
"Even though we cannot compare the current times to the Holocaust era, we can refer to him as a Righteous Gentile," Hershkowitz said.
Righteous Gentiles are designated as such by the State of Israel for risking their lives to save Jews during the Shoah.
Officials in Jerusalem have not yet decided who will represent Israel in Kaczynski's funeral and are presently waiting for the official invitations before making a decision.
Based on the rules of protocol, President Peres is supposed to represent Israel as he is Kaczynski's counterpart. However, should an invitation be sent to heads of state, both Peres and Netanyahu would technically be able to attend the ceremony.
Notably, the funeral is expected to be held at a problematic timing for both Peres and Netanyahu, as result of the Holocaust Remembrance Day events in Israel which both leaders must attend.
Tal Rabinovsky contributed to story