Israelis Stand in Silence to Remember Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism
Israelis stood in silence on Tuesday night as a one-minute siren sounded nationwide to mark the start of the annual Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism.
A total of 23,741 soldiers have died defending Israel, while 3,150 civilians have lost their lives in terrorist attacks throughout the country’s history.
Another siren — two minutes in length — will be heard in the morning on Wednesday, when many Israelis will visit military cemeteries to pay respects to departed family members and friends.
At an official state ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in remarks addressed to the bereaved, “Our wellbeing is bound up in yours. I know that you think and believe that we do not understand. That we will never understand. But today, we ask you, despite everything, to tell us.”
“Tell us about her, about him, tell us about the person,” he continued. “Take us to that space which is so full, crammed full, that they left behind in your hearts. Allow us to remember them.”
At the same event, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said, “This is a unique moment that makes it possible to feel the heart’s screams and the storm of emotions.”
“There is no consolation, but there is meaning,” Kochavi noted. “We have a state, an army that defends it and, therefore, the [bereaved] families have an eternal right to exist.”
Earlier on Tuesday, at a memorial ceremony at Yad Labanim, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “The light of the memorial candle that is being lit today across Israel also shines on the rest of the 364 days of the year. One day versus 364, but they are equally important. It is thanks to our sons and daughters, our fallen loved ones whose memories burn in our souls, that our lives are safeguarded and our country exists. Without them, where would we be? Today we bow our heads and pay our respects to Israel’s 23,741 fallen soldiers: Jews, Druze, Muslims, Christians, Bedouins and Circassians.”
“To this we add the thousands of victims of terrorist attacks, including the four innocent citizens who were killed earlier this week by rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza,” he added. “We send our deep condolences to their families. Each person who has fallen makes a wound in our hearts. No one knows this better than you and I, my brothers and sisters. The pain and grief never cease.”
“Perhaps each and every one of you finds his or her own way to deal with the loss, but if there is one thing that unites many of us, maybe all of us, it is the understanding of the great mission that our loved ones carried out,” Netanyahu declared. “It gives us the strength to bear the burden of grief. It is thanks to them that we live as a proud people in our homeland after many generations of weakness and humiliation. Seventy-five years ago, we were powerless. Today we are a rising world power. And since the national revival in our homeland — every generation has stood strong against our enemies. We do not want war, but we know that our willingness to make sacrifices is the thing that guarantees our survival.”