PM: Iran Seeks to Destroy Israel

There Will Never Be Another Holocaust, Netanyahu Vows at Yad Vashem

Rocket fired from Gaza explodes in open area in Israel's south during Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.

The Jewish people must never again trust others with their fate, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday evening at the official state ceremony opening Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum.

"From the oblivion of the Holocaust we have ascended to the peak of Zion," Netanyahu said at Warsaw Ghetto Square at the museum, speaking before Israeli leaders, foreign diplomats and Holocaust survivors, seven decades after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

"The murderous hatred against the Jews has not passed from the world, but it simply was replaced by murderous hatred against the Jewish state," he said. "Iran openly declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel, and is using all means to achieve this goal. What has changed is our ability to defend ourselves by ourselves."

Referring to sanctions imposed on Iran and to the latest round of talks concerning its nuclear program, the prime minister said: "We appreciate the efforts of the international community to stop [Iran's] nuclear program. But at no stage would we surrender our fate in the hands of others, even those of the best of our friends."

Netanyahu vowed that "there will never be another Holocaust."

During Netanyahu's speech, rocket sirens went off in Israel's south, near the Gaza border. Three rocket launches were detected by the alert system. One rocket exploded in an open area in the northern Negev and apparently two more landed on the Gaza side of the fence.

Speaking before Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres said the fate that befell Jews during World War II will not be forgotten.

"No force can distance us from the greatest darkness the human race has ever known," Peres said. "A third of our people, 6 million innocent individuals were murdered. ... The Jewish people today is smaller than it was on the eve of World War II. We have grown smaller, but haven't lost spirit."

At the ceremony, Peres expressed incredulity that some still dare to deny the horror ever occurred.

"The enlightened world must ask itself how ­so soon after the ovens were extinguished, after the fight against the Nazi Satan claimed such a heavy death toll from the allied forces ­a regime the likes of the one in Iran can still publicly deny the Holocaust," he said.

Monday morning at 10 a.m. sirens will sound for two minutes all over Israel. After the siren the official wreath-laying ceremony at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial will start, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will participate alongside Peres and Netanyahu.

At 10:30 a.m. the "Unto Every Person There is a Name" ceremony will be held, at which the public will read out the names of Holocaust victims. The Knesset will hold its ceremony at 11 a.m. and at 1 p.m. the main memorial service will be held in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem. A ceremony for youth movements will be held at Yad Vashem's Valley of the Communities at 5:30 p.m. with Education Minister Shay Piron participating.

Gantz at Auschwitz

Earlier Sunday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz arrived in Poland and stated that Israel is the assurance that the Holocaust will not recur. Gantz, who is part of a delegation of top officers participating in the Israel Defense Forces' "Witnesses in Uniform" program, visited the Birkenau and Auschwitz death camps and signed the latter's guest book.

"On a cold yet bright day, it's impossible to understand, and impossible to bridge the gap between the silence that prevails around here and the atrocity that took place amid the camp's towers and inside them; an inconceivable atrocity," he wrote.

"The State of Israel is the assurance that such an atrocity doesn't repeat itself, and the IDF is the shield that protects the national home, a safe haven for the entire Jewish people," he added.

Gantz will take part in the March of the Living on Monday, an annual event that is expected to draw over 10,000 attendees from around the world.

Treasury funds NIS 400m for survivors

Finance Minister Yair Lapid told the cabinet Sunday of a new multi-year plan for supporting Holocaust survivors. The treasury will allocate NIS 100 million a year from 2013 through 2017, a total of NIS 400 million.

The Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel said it would now be able to provide tens of millions of shekels in grants this year for various requests from some 20,000 of the approximately 192,000 survivors living in Israel today.

Some 37 survivors die every day, on average ­ some 13,500 a year. The state spends some NIS 3 billion a year on survivors, most of which is for payment of allowances to the survivors and other benefits, as well as for medical care.

Olivier Fitoussi