(Videos by: Lahav Harkov, Niv Elis)
A two-minute long siren brought Israel to a standstill on Wednesday as the country honored the 23,477 people who have fallen in the country's wars on Remembrance Day Wednesday.
In Jerusalem, a memorial ceremony honoring fallen soldiers took place at Mount Herzl beginning at 11:00 a.m. with the sounding of the siren. The President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, and several other prominent Israeli figures were in attendance.
The ceremonies will continue by honoring Israeli victims of hostilities at 1:00 p.m.
The light rail in the country's capital will be free leading up to the ceremony for all in attendance.
A ceremony honoring fallen soldiers was also taking place at 11:00 a.m. in Tel Aviv, at the military cemetery in Kiryat Shaul, with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon in attendance.
A torch lighting ceremony will begin at 8:00 p.m. at Mount Herzl, signalling the end of Memorial Day and the celebration of Independence Day.
"For over sixty-eight years we have been fighting the same war, the war for our independence,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday in a ceremony at the Western Wall marking Israel’s Memorial Day.
The figure of 23,477 fallen soldiers is calculated from when Jews first began to settle outside of Jerusalem. The dead include members of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad, the Israel Police, the Israel Prisons Service and the World War II Jewish Brigade, and soldiers who died from their disabilities suffered during combat, including 59 such soldiers this year.
More than 1.5 million Israelis are expected to visit Israel’s 52 military and other cemeteries throughout Yom Hazikaron.JTA contributed to this report.