Netanyahu on Memorial Day: In the Blind Hatred of Our Enemies, All Israelis Are Targets

Israel comes to a standstill to remember its fallen soldiers and civilians; some 23,320 Israelis have been killed in battle or attacks since 1860; in the past year, 116 members of the defense establishment were added to the list of fatalities.

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Israelis stand for two minutes of silence on the light rail in Jerusalem, as a siren sounds for Memorial Day. April 22, 2015
Israelis stand for two minutes of silence on the light rail in Jerusalem, as a siren sounds for Memorial Day. April 22, 2015

A two-minute siren sounded at 11 A.M. on Wednesday as Israel observes Memorial Day for those who have fallen in Israel Defense Forces operations or were killed in terror attacks.

At 1:00 P.M., the official memorial ceremony for terror victims took place at Mount Herzl, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief Gadi Eisenkot. A ceremony at the Kiryat Shaul military ceremony will be attended by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, while additional ceremonies will take place throughout the country.

Israeli soldiers prepare for the Memorial Day ceremony on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, April 21, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Some 23,320 Israelis have been killed in battle or attacks since 1860, when Jewish settlers first moved outside the walls of Jerusalem. In the past year, 116 members of the defense establishment were added to the list of fatalities, according to the ministry's figures. Of those, 67 were killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Memorial Day will continue until sunset, when Independence Day begins and the mourning turns to celebration. At 8:00 P.M., the official Independence Day torch lighting ceremony will take place at Mount Herzl, marking the end of Memorial Day and the start of Independence Day.

Latest updates:

2:00 P.M. The blind hatred of Israel's enemies means they view all Israelis as targets of terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Memorial Day ceremony Wednesday to honor Israelis killed in terror attacks.

"The story of our national revival is entwined with the countless attempts of our enemies to spill the blood of innocents, to initiate destruction and devastation and to break our spirits," Netanyahu said at the ceremony, which took place at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

"They don't distinguish between those who wear uniforms and regular civilians, between those who are on the front lines and those at the home front, or between Jews and non-Jews," he said. "Their hatred is blind, and from their perspective we all constitute targets."

Netanyahu called on Israel's neighbors to stop inciting against Jews and "glorifying murderers."

"As a nation that aspires to preserve the humanity of its children, we will not allow those who espouse distorted values to wave the sword of hatred," he said, citing terror attacks in Israel as well as the January attack on the kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher in Paris.

"Murderers will have no place among us," said Netanyahu. "Unfortunately, that's not the case among our neighbors. We say to our neighbors: Stop the incitement. Stop glorifying murderers. That is not how to make peace."

11:30 A.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened his address at the Mount Herzl memorial ceremony by describing the moment his parents learned of the death of his brother, Yoni. "There is no moment that can compare to the intensity of shock and suffering, and we know that the wound never fully heals," Netanyahu said.

"When I must decide whether to send our soldiers into an operation, I think of every soldier and family as if it was my son, as if it were my family," Netanyahu said. "But if there is no choice, then we must be prepared, to put ourselves in the battlefront. Only steadfast preparation will prevent war, ot when necessary, to determine its outcome."

"The State of Israel will continue to thrive and to bloom, as long as we can protect ourselves on every front, until we reach safe shores, until we reach long-awaited peace. But that could be a long and continuous process we will continue to protect our state – we are staying here."

11:10 A.M. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon speaking at memorial ceremony at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul: "Our hands our outstretched in peace to the nations and states of the reason, and whoever is willing, his hand will not be left hanging in the air."

"We long for peace and so we teach our future generations. Prepared, as we have proven in the past, to take the long and pitted path in order to achieve this and prevent pain and tears in the future," Ya'alon said. "That is our way and those are our vales. But we will not go wildly after honeyed words and illusions. We must remember that in our neighborhood there are no few forces who are still not at one with our right to a Jewish national state, and they will do everything they can to lead us astray and try to disrupt our lives."

11:00 A.M. Israel comes to a standstill as a two-minute siren sounds in memory of the country's fallen.

Tuesday, April 21:

11:15 P.M. A siren sounded across Israel at 8 P.M. on Tuesday night to mark the Memorial Day for those fallen in the Israel Defense Forces operations or killed in terror attacks.

The day officially begins with a candle-lighting ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, presided over by President Reuven Rivlin and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot. Full story

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