Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized Sunday after facing criticism for the fact that neither he nor any members of his cabinet attended the state ceremony for Israel’s fallen in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, held earlier in the day at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl.
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Attendees at the ceremony, which took place in the recently inaugurated Remembrance Hall, included President Reuven Rivlin and Deputy Knesset Speaker for the opposition MK Hilik Bar (Zionist Union). Also in attendance were representatives from the Israel Defense Forces, the Israel Police, the Defense Ministry, the Supreme Court and organizations representing the families of fallen soldiers.
In a statement issued several hours after the ceremony, Netanyahu called the lack of a representative from his cabinet “an unfortunate mistake” and apologized to the bereaved families.
“I have instructed the Government Secretariat to see to it that in the future, there will be [government] representation at ceremonies for Israel’s war dead,” Netanyahu said in the statement.
“There is no greater duty than that to our loved ones who died so that we can live in our state,” he added.
While the protocol does not require cabinet members to attend, it is notable that no cabinet ministers felt obligated to make an appearance at the sensitive occasion.
Because Rivlin confirmed his attendance early on, organizers of the ceremony did not turn to the Government Secretariat to request the presence of a cabinet minister.