How Israel Will Mark Memorial Day and Independence Day

Memorial Day was ushered in Monday evening to honor those killed in the defense of the country, and will continue until Tuesday evening, when Independence Day begins

Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet
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The Western Wall plaza on Memorial Day eve.
The Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem on Memorial Day eve, April 27, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Following a nationwide one-minute siren and a ceremony at the Western Wall Monday evening marking the begining of Memorial Day, Israel will come to a halt on Tuesday at 11 A.M. for a two-minute siren, in memory of those who have lost their lives in the defense of the country. 

It will be followed by the main memorial ceremony at the National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. Due to restrictions imposed to combat the coronavirus, the ceremony will take place without an audience, but will be broadcast on television and the internet.

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President Reuven Rivlin opened Memorial Day on Monday night with a speech at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem with only a handful of people in attendance, due to the public health restrictions.

Immediately following the siren on Tuesday, a flyover of jet fighters will pass above Mount Herzl in a “missing man formation.” This year for the first time, in the National Memorial Hall there will be a reading between 7:30 A.M. and 10 A.M of the names of Israel's 23,816 fallen. In addition, at the dozens of military cemeteries throughout the country, there will be a “candle guard” – an honor guard of Israel Defense Forces soldiers – as well as prayer.

At 1 P.M., the official memorial ceremony for victims of terrorism and other hostile acts will take place on Mount Herzl in a similar format. The Defense Ministry has called on the public to honor the memory of the fallen “at home and using digital means,” in accordance with the directives of the Health Ministry, which forbid crowds from congregating. The directive also bars the bereaved families from visiting the cemeteries on Tuesday due to the large crowds that generally gather there on Memorial Day.

At 7:45 P.M. the traditional torch-lighting ceremony will take place on Mount Herzl, signaling the transition from Memorial Day to Independence Day. The ceremony will be held this year on the theme “Connections in Israeli Society.” It was filmed in advance and conducted without an audience.

On Wednesday, Independence Day according to the Hebrew calendar, there will be a limited flyover of four Israel Air Force planes over hospitals throughout the country, in tribute to medical peronnel.

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