Hours ahead of Israel’s Independence Day celebrations, the country marked its annual Memorial Day, commemorating more than 23,000 fallen soldiers and terror victims Wednesday with a two-minute siren.
Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday morning with a two-minute memorial siren at 11 a.m. commemorating 23,928 fallen soldiers and terror victims, including 43 soldiers and civilians killed since last Memorial Day.
Bereaved families attended a ceremony and visited the graves of their loved ones in the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning.
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chief rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Supreme Court chief justice Esther Hayut, and intelligence chiefs Nadav Argaman, from the Shin Bet security agency and Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad spy agency, also spoke at the ceremony.
“Together we stand, united and hurting, alongside all of Israel’s citizens,” Netanyahu said according to a translation of his remarks by The Times of Israel. “We have raised excellent sons and daughters, who for 73 years have been risking their lives to protect Israel’s independence. Seventy-three years of grief, 73 years of revival.”
“Each one of us remembers the moment when they received the news about their fallen loved ones,” added the premier, who lost his brother Yoni in Operation Entebbe in 1976. “When my brother died, I didn’t know whether and how I would get back on my feet. I felt like someone who lost an organ — a hand, a leg, a heart.”
In 2020, the year of the pandemic, only three Israelis were killed in terror attacks–by far the smallest number in any year of Israel’s existence.