Israel observes moment of silence for its fallen as siren marks start of Remembrance Day

116 soldiers, civilians lost their lives in past year; memorial torch-lighting at Western Wall to begin memorial events.

April 21, 2015 19:59
3 minute read.
Holocaust Remembrance Day

Traffic comes to a standstill as siren sounds on Remembrance Day‏.. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Israel came to a standstill Tuesday evening to honor 23,320 fallen soldiers and civilian victims of wars and terrorism. Traffic stopped and Israelis paused to observe a minute-long moment of silence as a siren sounded throughout the country at 8 p.m. marking the beginning of Remembrance Day.

After the siren, a memorial torch-lighting ceremony began at the Western Wall, attended by President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

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At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, a two-minute siren will sound, before a state memorial ceremony will commence at the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery in northern Tel Aviv, in the presence of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

At 1 p.m., a ceremony honoring the victims of terrorism will take place at the Mt. Herzl Military Cemetery, in the presence of Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Eisenkot.

“On Remembrance Day, the Israeli nation, as one big family, bows its head and unites with the memories of all of the fallen of Israel’s wars, as a moral obligation to those who in their death commanded us to live, so that we may be worthy of them,” Ya’alon wrote in a message on the Defense Ministry’s virtual candle lighting website this week.

Israel will commemorate 116 recently fallen soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the past year.

Of the 116 who lost their lives over the course of the last year, 67 soldiers and five civilians were killed during Operation Protective Edge last summer; leaving behind 131 bereaved families, 11 widows, 26 orphans, and 187 bereaved siblings. Two soldiers were killed in a Hezbollah missile attack in January. In addition, 35 IDF disabled veterans who died of their wounds have been recognized as IDF fallen soldiers this year.

There are some 553 soldiers, including St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, who was killed in Gaza last summer, whose place of burial remains unknown. The ministry said there is a total of 9,753 bereaved families, 4,958 widows and 2,049 orphans aged up to 30.

Max Steinberg, Jordan Ben-Simon and Sean Carmeli, new immigrants and lone soldiers who fell in the line of duty during Operation Protective Edge last summer, will have their stories told at the Remembrance Day event in the Knesset Tuesday evening.

The Steinberg family will attend the annual “Remembering Through Song” ceremony as guests of the Defense Ministry, which flew them in from Los Angeles. Tens of thousands of Israelis attended their son’s and Sean Carmeli’s funeral last summer in a national demonstration of solidarity after hearing they did not have family in Israel.

Hundreds of bereaved family members are expected to attend the event, cosponsored by the Knesset, the Families and Commemoration Department at the Defense Ministry and the Terror Victims Department at the National Insurance Institute.

Rivlin will attend the event, at which Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Ya’alon, IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan and Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino will recite poems about and by fallen soldiers.

Between recitations, singers Miri Mesika, Idan Amadi, The Revivo Project, Rotem Cohen, Ariel Horowitz, Shai-Li Atari and IDF Cantor Lt.- Col. Shai Abramson and the IDF Rabbinate Band and other IDF bands will perform songs inspired and written by fallen soldiers.

The event will also feature videos about fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, including a screening of an interview with the mothers of the three teens who were kidnapped in Gush Etzion last summer, as well as the story of the Dakar submarine, which disappeared at sea in 1968, told by its captain’s grandson, who is currently completing a submarine command course with distinction.

“Remembering Through Song” will be broadcast live on television, radio and online at 9 p.m. on Tuesday.

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