Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lays wreathe for the fallen on Remembrance Day.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s determination to defend itself grows stronger as the threats around it increase, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told bereaved families at a Tuesday afternoon ceremony on the eve of Remembrance Day.
“The soil is soaked with the blood of our loved ones,” Netanyahu said at the at Yad Labanim ceremony, but added that “we can be comforted by the fact that these boys and girls fell as they engaged in a noble mission to ensure the existence of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu said he was using the words “the nation’s existence” because “there is no future for the Jewish people without the State of Israel.”
The prime minister spoke as the nation readied itself to remember the 23,320 soldiers and civilians who were killed in battle and in terror attacks since the state’s creation in 1948. Netanyahu said this number included Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druse, Beduin and Circassians.
To the bereaved families, he said, “On this day, the nation shares your grief.” He spoke of his brother Yonatan, who was killed in the IDF’s daring 1976 hostage rescue mission in Entebbe.
“I share your pain,” Netanyahu said. “It has been 39 years since my brother fell, and the grief has not gone away.”
But the sorrow, he went on, did not weaken the determination to defend the Land of Israel.
This determination could be seen in those soldiers who fought in Gaza in Operation Protective Edge over the summer, and in the spirit of those soldiers who left comfortable homes in the Diaspora to fight for the State of Israel, he said.
It was this courage, he added, that helped the people of Israel break the laws of history by returning to their land and rebuilding the Jewish state after thousands of years.
In a video message, he declared that “on this day, the people of Israel bow their heads in respect and gratitude. The poet Shlomo Sokolsky well expressed the heavy price. In his poem ‘Rosh Pina,’ he wrote: ‘There is no conquering the top of the rock – if there is no grave on the slope.’ This is the reality of our life in the past 67 years since the establishment of the State of Israel and even before.”