Israel marked Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism on Monday morning with a two-minute siren, with people stopping their daily activities. The day also included a state memorial service honoring fallen IDF soldiers at the military plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and Chief Justice Miriam Naor were in attendance, alongside bereaved families of fallen soldiers and terror victims.
3,117 citizens have been killed in acts of terror since Israel's founding and until today. This number includes 122 foreign citizens who were killed in Israel and 100 Israelis killed by acts of terror abroad. These acts have left 109 orphaned of both parents, while 826 people were widowed by acts of terror and 939 became bereaved parents.
During the later ceremony for terror victims, Netanyahu attacked terrorists wh have indisriminately taking the lives of others. "Terrorists attack with the intent to commit a crime, Jews and non-Jews, here and abroad, aiming to plant death, destruction and fear. They drink the incitement against our people along with their mother's milk. They are considered heroes in the society they grew up in. But how can a young boy who takes a knife, breaks into the room of an innocent young girl and stabs here in her sleep be a hero?"
Netanyahu specifically came out against terrorist organizations and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who he noted is due to meet US President Donald Trump. Referring to Hamas paying the families of convicted terrorists a monthly salary, he said to Abbas, "How can you talk about peace, peace with Israel, while funding murderers of innocent people? You want to do somethnig for the peace we all want? Stop funding these terrorists. Fund peace, and not murder."
Speaking directly to those who lost the loved ones, Netanyahu said, "you are an example of growing out of mourning," before adding, "Solidarity is the secret to our shared existence."
Abe Moses, who lost his wife and son after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at their vehicle in 1987, represented the victims' families. "For 30 years I have been part of a large family, too large," said Moses. "These cursed killers make no distinction between babies, the innocent, or anyone else. "My own body clearly shows these scars." Moses spoke ended by describing his hope, that those who died in acts of terror will not be forgotten.
During the earlier ceremony for fallen soldiers, Netanyahu spoke from personal experience as a bereaved brother. "The sons and daughters of the fallen brought with them touching memoribilia from the fathers they have lost. And from time to time they broke down with sudden tears that find no solace."
Paraphrasing Natan Yonantan's famous poem Hofim (Beaches), Netanyahu spoke of his brother Yoni, who was killed in Operation Entebbe. "I saw parents who were left without Yoni, with their hearts becoming hearts of stone."
"Citizens of Israel, we are all brothers, in good and bad times," added Netanyahu. "We know the price our loved ones paid." He ended by wishing to return the Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who are believed to have been killed during Operation Protective Edge, with their bodies captured by Hamas.
The Mount Herzl ceremonies were also marked by protest by relatives of victims who feel they are not getting the support they need. Sima Abu, whose husband Zion was kidnapped, tortured and killed in Barcelona 1985, came carrying a protest sign saying, "Being a terror victim's widow is a failure of the state." She stated that "Social Security and the state have neglected and humiliated us." He shirt said, "My husband's blood is not worthless and we're not transparent."
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked spoke at the ceremony at Kiryat Shaul. "Daughters and sons left behind a home enveloped in grief, parents filled with sorrow and endless longing: on Memorial Day. the heart of this country drifts toward your homes out of pain and a shared destiny. We embrace you with a warm hug, remember all the fallen, and the wonderful people they could have been. As we praise their characters, we are also pushed by the power of hope, to build a society that will be worthy of them. A society that solidifies our independence and safeguards our light. A society that casts out discrimination, nurturing unity, solidarity and serving our country as a core value. A society that persists in fighting against its enemies, and that will win out in the struggle they fought and fell for," said Shaked.
Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh spoke at earlier ceremony on Monday at a ceremony at the Mount Herzl ceremony. "Every year, we stand here in the police section of Mount Herzl, commemorating the best of our people who are no longer with us. 1,467 names inscribed on our hearts."
At the end of his speech, the police commissioner said: "In every generation, there are people of courage … rising without asking for anything: neither glory nor recognition, nor honor or power. They placed the other, the friend, the task, the rule, before and above their own welfare. Our duty to them is to cherish their heroism, the heroism of the best in our ranks. Here, in this part of the mountain, in the presence of those who sacrificed the most precious of all, and in the name of the fallen, we make a commitment, that murderous acts of terrorism and crime will not undermine the public's fortitude and therefore, will not achieve their goal."
Head of the Shin Bet Nadav Argaman released a statement on Monday, saying, "At the beginning of the 70th year of Israel's independence, our country is stronger than ever. The regional and global reality presents us with many new challenges. A stormy Middle East, rampant terror and hostile activity that takes many forms. But one goal remains: to harm the State of Israel, to terrorize, undermine the foundations of democracy, and even to disrupt the world order.
"We stand firmly in the face of all these challenges—in the daily work that helps ensure the existence and security of the State of Israel, with the understanding that Israel must be strong and democratic, ready for any campaign and capable to handle any threat.
"The memory of the fallen of the Shin Bet continues and strengthens, from year to year, the trunk on which the tree grows. Their legacy will continue in the future to shape our lives and work. We pledge to pass this on to future generations and continue on their way—to protect the peace and security of Israel."
At the same time, a state memorial service is being held at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv, attended by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
A memorial service for terror victims will be held on Mount Herzl at 1pm.
The Memorial Day events will end at 8pm in a torch-light ceremony on Mount Herzl that would also mark the beginning of Independence Day celebrations.