On Israel's Memorial Day, families of Carmel firefighters battle for recognition
Israel to mourn 22,867 fallen soldiers, including 37 prison guards and three police personnel who were killed in the Carmel Fire; also commemorated are 2,443 civilian victims of terror.
Memorial Day will begin at 8 P.M. with a minute-long siren when people stand in silence, followed immediately by the start of the state memorial ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in the presence of President Shimon Peres and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
The number of fallen soldiers stands at 22,867, with 183 more since last Memorial Day. Also commemorated are 2,443 civilian victims of terror, to which 13 names were added over the past year.
The Israel Defense Forces commemoration department counts casualties in Israel's battles beginning in 1860, when Jews from Jerusalem first settled outside the walled city, and conflict with the Arabs began.
The figure also includes members of the pre-state underground forces as well as members of the intelligence community, the police and the Prisons Service.
Soldiers who died from illness or accidents unconnected with their service are also included.
The 183 who fell in the past year include 37 prison guards and three police personnel who were killed in the Carmel Fire, but not the three firefighters who died in the blaze. As late as Saturday, the families of the three firefighters were still fighting the decision not to include their names among the casualties. A source in the Defense Ministry said the government had decided to recognize the firefighters for the purpose of survivors benefits, but the law, which determines who is and who is not a battle casualty, does not do so, and it was "a matter for legislation."
The Defense Ministry will hold 44 ceremonies tomorrow in military cemeteries and at the graves of soldiers throughout the country, with approximately 1.5 million people expected to attend. A memorial candle will be placed on each grave of a soldier, as well as flowers and a small Israeli flag.