A two-minute siren sounded across the country at 10 am Thursday in memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.
The siren kicked off memorial services nationwide, including a wreath-laying ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Museum. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz were among the officials to lay wreaths in memory of the Nazis' victims.
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Holocaust survivors lit memorial candles during a subsequent service held at the Knesset, under the title "Unto Every Person There is a Name."
Peres, Reuven Rivlin at Knesset (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
During the service, Peres recounted the manner in which the Nazis dragged the Jews at the Polish village where his family resided into a wooden synagogue: "The gates were locked and they were burned alive. According to one testimony, a woman who remained called on the Jews to run. But they were all shot. No one survived."
Peres' told the attendees about the family he had lost in the Holocaust, and recalled the last words his grandfather told him: "Wherever you go, stay Jewish, no matter what misfortune befalls."
WWII veterans at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu said during the Knesset service that this is the first time attends the ceremony without his father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who passed away last November. "He would listen to the names carefully," Netanyahu said. "He believed it was a way to commemorate the souls that were lost."
The March of the Living from Auschwitz to Birkenau is set to take place in the afternoon.
Netanyahu at Knesset service (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
A 67-year-old woman was hit by a car in Beersheba when she stepped out of her own vehicle to observe the 10 am moment silence in memory of the Holocaust victims.
Firefighters rescued the woman, who was trapped under the offending car. She sustained serious injuries and was taken to Soroka Medical Center.
In another incident, a 41-year-old woman suffered moderate wounds when she was hit by a car while observing the moment of silence on Route 44 near Mikveh Israel.
'Iran is an existential threat'
Speaking at a state ceremony held for Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem on Wednesday evening, Netanyahu said that those who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim or an exaggeration "have learnt nothing from the Holocaust."
Drivers stopped for moment of silence (Photo: Zalmai Zonenfeld)
"A nuclear Iran is an existential threat on the State of Israel and also on the rest of the world," he said. "We have an obligation to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. It's the world's obligation, but above all it is our obligation."
Peres also spoke at the ceremony. "The Nazi dictator's crematoriums created a global disaster and a Holocaust for my people," he said. "Holocaust deniers are denying the actions of their predecessors to cover up for their own actions. The lie of denial will not extinguish the fire of the inferno."
Gantz, who attended Wednesday's sevice as well, said: "Tonight, 70 years later, standing in the land of Israel I look before me and see the embodiment of the strength of the Jewish nation."
Gantz said that the IDF draws it strength from the determination of Holocaust survivors and that never again shall the Jewish people stand defenseless.
"We are the arm of steel that will respond to any attempt to hurt us with a harsh blow. We are the people's wall of protection," he said.
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