Israel will remember its 23,320 fallen soldiers and citizens as part of Memorial Day next Tuesday and Wednesday with two minute-long sirens.
The day, formally called Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, honors those killed in the line of duty or from terror from the time the first Zionists arrived in Mandatory Palestine at the end of the 19th century and until present day Israel.
As of April 14th 2015, Israel had lost some 23,320 of its sons and daughters, 116 of them in the last year alone – 67 of those soldiers killed during Operation Protective Edge. Some 35 wounded veterans passed away this year as a result of their injuries, and were thus also recognized as fallen soldiers, the Defense Ministry said.
More than just remembering the fallen, the day also gives Israelis a chance to show their respect for the 'family of bereaved' – an umbrella term for all those families who lost their loved ones to terror or war – currently numbering 9,753 bereaved parents, 4,958 widows and 2,049 orphans (under 30); together they number 16,760.
In the past year, as a result of summer war in Gaza, the 67 fallen soldiers added 154 bereaved parents to the 'family'; 26 children were orphaned as a result of Operation Protective Edge; including two who were born after their fathers fell.
As much as 1.5 million people are expected to visit one of Israel's 52 military cemeteries Tuesday evening and Wednesday. On Tuesday the first of the two sirens will be sounded at 8 pm, and then again the following day, marking the end of Memorial Day and the beginning of Independence Day celebrations.
Events will begin Sunday with Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon joining a youth march to Mt. Herzl, Israel's main military cemetery.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot will attend a memorial service in the afternoon in Jerusalem and at 8pm, directly after the siren, the main ceremony will be held in the Wailing Wall (Kotel) compound.
At 11 am, after the second siren, a second ceremony will be held at Mt. Herzl together with the prime minister and IDF chief of staff. At the same time, the defense minister will lead the ceremony in Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul cemetery.
Roughly 4 million stickers commemorating Memorial Day have been distributed throughout Israel. with tens of thousands being sent abroad.
Hundreds of buses and shuttles will be made available to the public at Mt. Herzl and to other central cermonies, and 450,000 water bottles of water will be handed out to the bereaved families and the public at the cemeteries.
The state also distributed some 120,000 flower reefs to be placed on the fallen's graves, and 20,000 chairs will be placed throughout military cemeteries for bereaved parents.