97 new fallen to be commemorated this Memorial Day
23,544 soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces have fallen defending the country since the beginning of the Yishuv; 97 officers and soldiers were added to this painful list last year; this Monday, over 1.5 million people are expected to visit their graves lay a bouquet, light a candle, shed a tear and thank them.
Military cemeteries are scattered the length and breadth of Israel, from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat, merging with the landscapes of Israel and silently recounting the story of the country’s existence.
This Sunday at 8 pm, a siren will be heard throughout the country, marking the beginning of the annual Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism. Over the past year, a further 97 have joined the fallen ranks of Israel's fallen, and 23,544 have died since the beginning of the Yishuv.
Today there are 9,157 bereaved parents in Israel, 4,881 widows from the army and security forces, 1,843 orphans under the age of 30 and thousands of bereaved siblings and older orphans.
Together with an additional 1.5 million people, they are expected to visit the military cemeteries during Memorial Day. The Ministry of Defense's Department of Families and Commemoration is currently preparing for their arrival. Throughout the entire year, they tend to the maintenance, cleaning, gardening and renovation of the cemeteries, as well as the polishing and replacing of damaged or old gravestones. They also work on improving accessibility to the cemeteries for the disabled and elderly.
Three state symbols of commemoration mark the graves of the fallen on Memorial Day: the lighting of a memorial candle, the laying of flowers and the placing of a miniature Israeli flag with a black memorial ribbon. These are all intended as an expression of national and state honor for the fallen and the state’s joining in the mourning felt by the bereaved, widowed and orphaned families.
According to National Insurance Institute data, since the day of the declaration of the state on May 4, 1948, 3,117 civilians were killed in acts of terrorism. That figure includes 122 foreign nationals killed in terrorist attacks in Israel and 100 Israelis killed in terrorist attacks abroad.
Since last year’s Memorial Day, 11 civilians were killed in attacks, the latest being the English exchange student Hannah Bladon, who was stabbed to death in Jerusalem. Terrorist attacks have left 3,117 orphans living in Israel today—including 109 orphans who have lost both parents—along with 826 widows and widowers and 939 bereaved parents.
(Translated and edited by J. Herzog)