Israel comes to standstill to remember Holocaust victims

April 12 (UPI) — Sirens Thursday brought Israelis to a national standstill — as the country remembered the six million Jewish victims who died in the Holocaust.

Buses and cars stopped on Israeli streets and passengers stepped out of their vehicles to commemorate the observance — on the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, the memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. Other events followed, including a main memorial ceremony and a youth movement assembly.

Most preschools and schools in Israel held official assemblies for students to honor the dead and hear stories from Holocaust survivors.

The Israeli government took part in a ceremony called, “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” where lawmakers recited names of victims.

In Poland Thursday, millions observed the annual “March of the Living” event, led by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Polish President Andrzej Duda.

More than 12,000 marchers — including Israel Defense Force chief Gadi Eisenkot and the heads of Israel’s Mossad spy agency and Shin Bet security service — participated in a two-mile march from the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau extermination camp, which housed Nazi gas chambers.

More than 1 million people died in the camps.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid tribute Wednesday night at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where he suggested that Nazi aggression during World War II was comparable to activities by Iran today.

“Today, too, there’s an extremist regime that’s threatening us, threatening the peace of the entire world,” Netanyahu said. “That regime explicitly declares that it intends on destroying us, the Jewish state.”