"The horrific acts of terrorist know no boundaries," said Netanyahu. "Their hate and brutality is never satisfied. They have one thing in common: They want to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth. They won't do it."
"We are here, in Jerusalem, and we will stay in Jerusalem. We won't move from here, we won't stop building, and we won't stop creating," the prime minister continued.
Netanyahu at Mount Herzl. Photo: Omer Meiron
"They are murderers – we are builders. Historically, the Jewish people has always outlasted its enemies. They have disappeared, and we're here. I know that the price paid by the bereaved families is unbearable, and I want to express my thanks and the thanks of the entire nation for their strength, their courage."
"The memory of your loved ones will stay in our hearts forever, may their memories be blessed," Netanyahu concluded.
Yossi Mandelvich speaks out against Shalit deal (Photo: Mark Israel Sellem)
During the service, a bereaved father who addressed the audience came out against Netanyahu for carrying out the Shalit prisoner exchange deal. Yossi Mandelvich said: "This year the sorrow of the terror victims' families was put to a very difficult test. The return of a captive soldier divided the bereaved and the entire public.
"We were faced with poignant questions: Could a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of entire family be set free? Is it reasonable that a person who committed a gruesome massacre at a hotel celebrate with his family? A soldier was freed, but at what cost? Hamas was the big winner and landed a deal others never dreamed of."
Meanwhile, the father of a high school student who died in a terror attack in Haifa in 2003 claimed he was detained by security forces at the entrance to Mount Herzl. Ron Kerman had sent a letter to the prime minister urging him to refrain from speaking at the event because of the Shalit deal. The security guards had confiscated a copy of the letter and demanded that Kerman remain quiet during the ceremony.
Netanyahu in Mount Herzl (Photo: Mark Israel Sellem)
Earlier, at the national memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers, Netanyahu told the families: "My brothers and sisters in grief, I know how each one of you feels. I am one of you," referring to the loss of his brother, Yonatan Netnayahu, who was killed in action during Operation Entebbe. "(…) Yoni, I miss you every day, in the little moments and the big ones, in the happy moments and the sad ones. This is how all of us feel… I know that thanks to those who have died, we live."
Laying a wreath for fallen soldiers. Photo: Omer Meiron
"They say time heals all wounds, but that's not right. The years pass and the pain remains. As we stand here, by our loved ones' graves, we are surrounded by the entire nation, standing in silence, with bowed heads, embracing the fallen and their families," the prime minister said.
"Today, we are one big family, because our people have known suffering and know that our freedom came at the price of our best and brightest, and knows that their deaths have given us our lives."
IDF soldiers in Jerusalem. Photo: AP
Defense Minister Ehud Barak took part in a memorial service at Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul Cemetery: "If there is any consolation to the pain, it is in knowing the loss was not for naught.
"Our enemies near and far have not accepted our existence, but they are facing a state that is stronger than ever, a state that would protects its sovereignty in any situation," he said, adding, "Let us hope for a day when soldiers are no longer sent to the battlefield," he said.
This evening, mourning will be replaced by joy as celebrations of Israel's 64th Independence Day kick off. At 8 pm, in another ceremony on Mount Herzl, torches will be lighted and flags raised from half mast.
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