National Memorial Planned for Mount Herzl

A national memorial hall to honor Israel's fallen soldiers will be built at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced last night. Construction is set to begin this summer.

The hall will bear the names of each of the 22,682 fallen soldiers. Next to each name will be a place for a candle, to be lit twice a year - on the date of the soldier's death, and on Memorial Day. An information booth will offer details about each soldier.

Representatives of the Defense Ministry and Yad Labanim said the booth would commemorate the soldiers' legacies and teach the public about their sacrifices.

Barak said yesterday that the choice of Mount Herzl was significant in itself.

"The hall will join a list of sites on this hilltop that tell the story of the journey from Holocaust to independence in our lifetime - the tomb of Israel's visionary, the graves of Israel's leaders, and the monument to the individuals who survived the Holocaust alone, were the last members of their families, immigrated to Israel, enlisted in the nation's defense and fell in the heat of battle.

"At the peak of this hill is the military cemetery, with a long line of tombstones serving as visible testament to the necessary price - a price of blood we didn't want - for Israel's sovereignty over its land in this generation," Barak said. "As defense minister, I am aware of the moral obligation to the bereaved families. The creation of the memorial hall is an additional effort to commemorate the legacy and memory of the fallen."