Memorial Day / 24,293 Fallen Soldiers, Terror Victims Since Israel Was Born

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Memorial Day events begin this afternoon with a ceremony at the Ammunition Hill battlefield in Jerusalem in the presence of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Later in the day, President Shimon Peres will light a memorial flame at the Western Wall plaza.

According to the Defense Ministry, 133 soldiers and civilians died during the past year either in the course of military service or as civilian casualties of hostile activity.

These deaths include the 10 soldiers who were killed during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip, two members of a helicopter crew who crashed in the Jezreel Valley and a Bedouin tracker who was killed two months ago by a Palestinian explosive charge along the Gaza border fence.

Most of the 133 whose names are being added to the memorial rolls this year died in traffic or work accidents, while some of the others were disabled veterans whose disabilities contributed to their deaths.

The total number of those who have been remembered by this Memorial Day is 22,570. The dead who are counted date from 1860, when Jews first settled outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Aside from members of the Israel Defense Forces, the memorial rolls include members of the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad intelligence service, the Israel Police and the Israel Prisons Service, the pre-state Jewish underground and the Jewish Brigade, which served alongside British forces in World War II. Last month two traffic policeman were killed in the line of duty in a terrorist attack in Jordan Valley.

According to the National Insurance Institute, 17 civilians were killed in the past year in terrorist attacks, bringing to 1,723 the number of civilians killed in hostile acts since the founding of the state. Three civilians lost their lives in rocket attacks in the course of Operation Cast Lead.

Three people were killed when a terrorist went on a rampage in a bulldozer in Jerusalem in July of last year, and Shimon Shiran this month succumbed to injuries he suffered in the suicide bombing at the Matza restaurant in Haifa seven years ago.

According to National Insurance Institute director general Esther Dominicini, the NII made payments in 2008 of NIS 400 million to those injured in terrorist attacks and to the families of those killed in such attacks. The NII Web site, at, features the stories of some of these victims.