Netanyahu at Memorial Day Ceremony: Israel 'Must Resolutely Defend Our Existence'

Speaking at a military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Lieberman said: 'We're not looking for adventures, but when it comes to the security of Israel and its citizens, there will be no compromise'

Soldiers at Mt.Herzl military cemetery on Memorial Day
Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel will resolutely defend its existence during  a Memorial Day ceremony on Wednesday at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu recounted that he was asked by someone whose father was killed in combat: "Mr. Prime Minister, How do you decide to send soldiers into battle? What do you think about?" The prime minister said: "I answered him: 'I think about the soldiers and I also think about you and families like yours. I think about my comrades in arms. I always think about the price and how it's possible to avoid losses. At moments when [we are] put to the test, we must resolutely defend our existence, standing like a protective wall against our enemy."

"Power and pain, pain and power. My wife and I have faced them over the past week in heart-stirring meetings with families of the fallen. We sat with the families of the soldiers who were murdered on the Temple Mount last summer," the prime minister recounted, referring to a shooting attack in Jerusalem last July in which two Israeli Arab Border Police officers, Staff Sgt. Maj. Hael Sathawi and Advanced Staff Sgt. Maj. Kamil Shanan, were killed. "[Their] fathers recounted how proud they are to be citizens of the State of Israel," Netanyahu said. "All of us, Jews, Druze, Christians, Muslims, Bedouin and Circassians, all of us stand together against terrorism that threatens to destroy us and together we will continue to win."

Netanyahu was joined at Mount Herzl by President Reuven Rivlin and a number of other senior officials including Israeli army Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein,  Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Chief Rabbis David Lau and Yitzhak Yosef.

At the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Avidgor Lieberman said: "We are not looking for adventures, but when it comes to the security of the State of Israel and its citizens, there will be no compromise and no blinking. My advice to our neighbors from the north and south is -- take this into account and take this seriously."

"Threats to harm us and to destroy the State of Israel are unceasing," Lieberman added. "We need a strong and determined Israel Defense Force and the understanding that we live in a fragile and explosive reality, and at any moment, we can need all of the power and skill of the IDF and its commanders."

Israelis stood at attention at 11 A.M. on Wednesday for a 2-minute memorial siren. Memorial Day concludes at 8 P.M. on Wednesday when Independence Day begins in celebration of Israel's 70th anniversary, extending into the day on Thursday.