TEL AVIV – “We will not give up our hope to achieve peace with our enemies. But first we will achieve peace with ourselves,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a speech in Jerusalem on Tuesday in memory of Israel’s fallen soldiers.
“Jews, Druze, Muslims, Christians, Circassians, men and women – all share one fate. This day is the nation’s chance to honor those who have fallen and acknowledge their sacrifice,” Netanyahu said at the event commemorating the 23,447 men and women who have died in uniform or as victims of terror attacks.
The prime minister also shared his personal feelings about losing his brother Yoni during Operation Entebbe in 1976.
“When my parents and I received the news of what had happened to my brother, my whole world fell apart. This is what has happened to you. For the remainder of our lives we will fight to come out of the destruction,” Netanyahu said.
“We will never completely escape it, but there are always new beginnings,” he added.
Israel observed two moments of silence to mark the event, during which air raid sirens were sounded throughout the country.
At 8 p.m. on Tuesday evening, President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot led the lighting of a memorial candle at the Western Wall. This was followed by an official state ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
52 military cemeteries across the Jewish state held memorial ceremonies on Wednesday morning, attended by some 1.5 million citizens.
At 1 p.m., Rivlin and Eisenkot will lead a memorial ceremony on Mount Herzl honoring Israel’s victims of terrorism.
The somber day will conclude on Wednesday evening with a candle-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl, just ahead of Israel’s 68th Independence Day celebrations.