For Australians and New Zealanders living in or visiting Israel, there will be two remembrance days this year for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Preceding this year’s Remembrance Day was Australian and New Zealand Army Corp Day, which is usually commemorated on April 25, but was brought forward a day in Israel so as not to clash with the nation’s day of mourning.

The ANZAC Day ceremony at the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Jerusalem on Tuesday had one of the largest attendances on record, including various groups from Australia and New Zealand who were either part of organized solidarity missions or participants in some half-dozen volunteer programs throughout the country.

According to Paul Israel – the executive director of the Israel Australia Chamber of Commerce – the influx of visiting dignitaries and trade delegations from Australia coupled with missions from organizations such as the Jewish National Fund and the United Israel Appeal, among others, has taken on avalanche proportions, with new groups arriving every few days.

Although ANZAC Day specifically commemorates the ill-fated landing of Australian and New Zealand troops in Gallipoli in 1915, the ceremony also encompasses all other battles and wars in which Australians and New Zealanders made the supreme sacrifice.

Rabbi Raymond Apple, the former senior rabbi of the Australian Defense Forces, noted that for the first time that he could remember, memorial tributes of Israeli flags, flowers and candles had been placed by the headstones of the Jewish graves, symbolizing the linkage among ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day and Independence Day. The IDF and the Association of Working and Student Youth had put the tributes on the graves.

Australian Ambassador Andrea Faulkner, who attended the Jewish service along with Canadian Ambassador Paul Hunt, noted in her address at the general service that Australian and New Zealand forces had a long history of involvement in this part of the world, and remained very much involved in the region. She cited as examples Australian and New Zealand troop commitments in Afghanistan and across the Middle East, including those serving with the Multinational Force and Observers and the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).

“We have many, too many opportunities to consider the realities of conflict,” said Faulkner, who commented that ANZAC Day gave Australians and New Zealanders time to remember and reflect, to grieve, to pay respects and to celebrate.

She observed that this year marked the 95th anniversary of the Palestine campaign, including the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade in Beersheba, which heralded the defeat of the Turkish army.

The Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Jerusalem is one of several in the region, the final resting places of soldiers from Commonwealth Armies who are buried far from home and their loved ones.

There is no Turkish ambassador in Israel, but a diplomat represented the Turkish Embassy. Most other embassies had military attaches representing them, and New Zealand, which does not have an embassy or consulate in Israel, was represented by Honorary New Zealand Consul Gad Propper.

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