Israel Marks Memorial Day for Fallen IDF Soldiers

Two-minute nationwide siren sounds at 11 A.M. to commemorate the 22,993 IDF soldiers who died during their service.

Israel marked Memorial Day on Wednesday morning as a two-minute nationwide siren sounded at 11 A.M. to commemorate the 22,993 IDF soldiers who have fallen while serving the nation.

The national memorial service was held at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and was attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Services also took place at military cemeteries across the country. A memorial service for victims of terrorist attacks was held 1 P.M.

Mount Herzl
Emil Salman

"I know what you go through on this day and every day," Netanyahu, whose older brother Yonatan was killed in the 1976 Entebbe operation, said to bereaved families during his address at Mount Herzl. "I'm one of you. I know the agony of parents who have lost a son or daughter, the tragedy of young children who will never know their father, the cutting down of life felt by brothers and sisters, the longing of a young widow for a love who will never return."

Wednesdays services came a day after a ceremony for Israel's fallen soldiers was held on Tuesday evening on the eve of Memorial Day in Yad Lebanim in Jerusalem. The ceremony was followed by a national service at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Peres, who spoke at the national ceremony on Tuesday, opened his speech with words of empathy for bereaved families. He went on to acknowledge that no words could heal the pain of losing a loved one. "We can collect words from morning to night," said Peres, "To search the entire lexicon. To consult experts. To try every expression. Every sentence. Every single word. And I know, it has not yet been found and will not be found: a word capable of healing sorrow. The sentence that has the power to console. There is no such sentence. There never was. And there never will be."

"The State of Israel, for whom your children paid the highest and most painful price; for its establishment, existence and security. For a certain existence," said Peres. "But there is still a threat to its peace And if need be, we will know how to protect it again."

Toward the end of his speech, Peres said he was sure that this year, too, Israel would know how to protect the lives of its citizens. "And we will continue searching for a way to achieve peace in Israel."

According to the IDF, 22,993 soldiers have fallen since 1860. 126 soldiers have fallen since last year and there are 10,524 bereaved families in Israel – of them 2,396 are orphans and 4,992 are widows.

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