The State of Israel honored the memory of 25,578 fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks Sunday. An official ceremony opened in the Kotel, in the presence of President Shimon Peres , IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz , Police Chief Yohanan Danino.
President Peres said: "We will never forget those who allowed Israel to be great; those who during the last 65 years of the State's existence protected it with their bodies, blood and spirit – securing its borders and citizens."
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Speaking to bereaved families, he said: "The pain of the loss knows no boundaries. You, the parents, the spouses, the children and siblings – you are the real heroes of life."
Soldiers at ceremony (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz also spke at the ceremony, saying: "Tonight the fire of sacrifice is alight in the memorial candles burning in the Kotel and throughout the country, as well as in the hearts of every soldier in the country. This fire is the willingness of the youth to enlist and dutifully devote themselves to the task at hand.
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
"I think of all the mothers and fathers I have known, of all the boys and girls who are no longer with us. In their fall, our boys and girls have achieved eternity, embedded forever in the character of this country. The story of their sacrifice and bravery reminds us those that have allowed us to walk our current path. Not for nothing we call them the salt of our land; they are the essence of the tears of the Land of Israel."
(Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
He added that, "there is no place or target which can escape the long arms of the IDF . I know that when the time will come we will be as prepared as ever."
Family members of fallen soldiers and of women and men who died in terror attacks arrived at the ceremony.
Before the ceremony began a minute long siren was sounded throughout the country.
People stand in silence for siren. Tel Aviv (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Over the past year, 92 people serving the Israeli defense establishment died on duty – 37 of them IDF soldiers, 12 policemen and women.
The number of civilians who died in terror attacks amounted to 2,493 over the past year, after 10 people were killed since Memorial Day 2013.
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