Peres at Memorial Day Ceremony: IDF Is Stronger Than Ever

President consoles bereaved Israeli families at Jerusalem's Western Wall, says no words could heal their sorrow.

The Israel Defense Forces is stronger than ever, President Shimon Peres told bereaved families at Israel's Memorial Day ceremony in the Old City of Jerusalem on Tuesday night.

During his speech, which took place immediately after the Israeli flag was lowered to half-mast, Peres said that, while Israel has paid a heavy price for its existence, it is yet to stabilize peace.

President Shimon Peres lights the memorial torch at the Western Wall, Jerusalem.
Haaretz Archive / GPO

Standing before the Western Wall, the president 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."

"This time we will be more prepared, stronger, greater in numbers," continued Peres, "The IDF of today is a stronger army than ever. With strategic wisdom and sophisticated technology. The IDF has moral values. And the IDF is manned by quality people. We know that, and our enemies have experienced it in the past. Logic dictates they would not repeat their mistakes."

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."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis, Israel's Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat were also to participate in the ceremony.

According to the IDF Spokesperson, 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.

On the eve of Memorial Day, Netanyahu sent his yearly missive to bereaved Israeli families.

"As a son to a bereaved family, Memorial Day has special significance for me. This day isn't just a national memorial day, it is also a private memorial day for me and the members of my family," Netanyahu wrote.

Read this article in Hebrew.