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'On Remembrance Day we are united in memory of the fallen'
By JPOST.COM STAFF
04/24/2012
At Yad Lebanim Remembrance Day ceremony in Jerusalem, Netanyahu remembers his brother and friends who died fighting for Israel; Rivlin says last of Israel's wars may not be behind us.
 
Speaking at the opening Remembrance Day ceremony at Jerusalem's Yad Lebanim memorial on Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke of his brother Yoni, who fell in the Entebbe rescue operation, and friends that fell by his side in battle.

The prime minister identified with the pain felt by a family after being notified that a relative has been killed in war. "From that time, their world is cut in two," he said, "and what it was before, it will never be again."

On Remembrance Day, he said, when the siren sounds, the people of Israel stand united as one family, in memory of all those that sacrificed their lives for the country.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said the last of Israel's wars may not be behind it.

"Still today, there are enemies rising up to destroy us. Still today, our cities and land are as threatened as always," he said. "Nothing will deter our sons who have returned home. No international committee, no provocative mass marches on the borders of Israel, and no threats of annihilation."

President Shimon Peres also attended the ceremony, and Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger addressed the audience. A memorial candle was lit and Kaddish was said in honor of soldiers that have fallen in Israel's wars.

At 8 p.m. a siren was scheduled to be sounded, preceding memorial ceremonies throughout the country, including a service at the Western Wall, which Peres and Netanyahu were both scheduled to attend.

On Tuesday evening, the Knesset was due to hold an official memorial ceremony. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Welfare Minister Moshe Kahlon, Deputy IDF Chief of Staff Yair Naveh and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino were among those expected to read poetry by and about fallen soldiers.

Earlier Tuesday, Netanyahu issued a message to bereaved families of fallen soldiers, in which he said that the unbreakable bond between Remembrance Day and Independence day underscores the fact those who fell in Israel's wars, did not fall in vain.

"My brothers and sisters, members of bereaved families, it was the heartfelt duty of our dear ones that led them to face the enemy," Netanyahu said, emphasizing that it Israelis have a duty, not only to remember the fallen, but to look toward the future as well.

"Today, the People of Israel lay aside disagreements and stand as one beside you. Today we remember the fallen of Israel's wars, all of our dear ones. Each one had a family. Every name has a life's story of its own; an entire world has been cut short, " Netanyhau added.

In reference to his late brother Yoni Netanyahu, who fell in the Entebbe rescue mission, the prime minister continued: "As a member of a bereaved family, Remembrance Day is very significant for me. It is not only a national day of remembrance, it is also a private day of remembrance for me and my family, as it is for all of you."

Looking ahead to Independence Day, Netanyahu stressed that due to the soldiers that fought for Israel, the state arose. "Thanks to them, the State of Israel will continue to develop and prosper, and thanks to them the members of the younger generation will also be able to live their lives in security and tranquility," Netanyahu stated.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also wrote a letter to bereaved families Tuesday, in which he affirmed that the fight for Israel's existence that has been fought since the 1948 War of Independence is not over,

Israel has and continues to face "challenges and struggles over our very existence here," Barak wrote. "That fight is not over and the price is very heavy."

Even in its 64th year of independence, great challenges lie ahead of Israel but the state is doing everything to strengthen itself, the defense minister continued, pointing to "loyalty, perseverance and bravery form the basis of our strength and our ability to stand against every enemy, near and far."

Addressing the bereaved families, Barak said that as defense minister he stands by their side and promised not to give up on the dream of peace.

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