Israel Holds Memorial Day Ceremonies Without Audience Amid Coronavirus Restrictions

Israel will commemorate 23,816 people who have fallen in its conflicts since 1860 ■ Defense officials call on the public to mark Memorial Day ‘at home and using digital means’ due to coronavirus crisis

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A man mourns next to a grave at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, April 2020.
A man mourns next to a grave at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, April 2020. Credit: Emil Salman

Events marking Memorial Day began Monday evening at 8 P.M. with a one-minute siren, and were followed a small ceremony at the Western Wall attended by President Reuven Rivlin and Chief of General Staff Aviv Kochavi.

At 9 P.M., the “Songs in Their Memory” event, filmed in advance at the Knesset, was broadcasted, during which the names of the fallen were screened on the walls of the building.

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Other ceremonies and events will take place in online formats as Israel battles the coronavirus, including the “Songs from the Square” event sponsored by the Tel Aviv Municipality, and the Israeli-Palestinian memorial ceremony sponsored by the Parents’ Circle Families Forum.

On Tuesday morning, Memorial Day events will begin at 11 with a two-minute siren, followed by the state memorial ceremony held at Mount Herzl. It, too, will be in a limited format, with no audience, and be broadcast on television. There will also be a fighter jet flyover. The names of the fallen will be read at Mount Herzl from 7:30 A.M. to 10 A.M.

At 1 P.M. the state ceremony memorializing terror victims here and abroad will be held, also with no audience. It, too, will be broadcast live.

The Defense Ministry lists 23,816 people who have fallen in Israel’s conflicts since 1860. Seventy-five names were added this past year, including soldiers and police officers who died during their service and 33 disabled veterans who succumbed to their injuries. There was one terror victim – Rena Shnerb, who was killed near Dolev last August.

Of the fallen since the state was founded, 3,153 people were killed in terror attacks, of them 120 foreigners killed in Israel and 100 Israelis killed in attacks on foreign soil. These attacks left 3,241 orphans, of whom 120 were orphaned of both parents.

Defense officials called on the public to commemorate their loved ones “at home and using digital means,” in accordance with the instructions of the Health Ministry that bans public gatherings and also prohibits families from visiting the military cemeteries on Memorial Day.

On Tuesday night at 7:45 P.M. the traditional Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl will take place under the slogan “Connections in Israeli Society.” There will be no audience. Most of the assembly, including the speeches and the artists’ performances, was filmed in advance and edited together for broadcast.

On Wednesday, Independence Day, there will be an Israel Air Force flyover of four training planes in the skies above the country’s hospitals. The traditional flyover will not take place to prevent mass gatherings.

During the day, the International Bible Quiz for Youth will take place, also without an audience. It will be broadcast live. At 7 P.M. the Israel Prize ceremony, which was filmed in advance, will be broadcast.

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