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Israel took time out on Tuesday night, a day before Independence Day, to mourn those who died in the defense of the nation.
"We must unite as a country and as a society and once more speak about Zionism," Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen Gabi Ashkenazi said at the state ceremony marking Remembrance Day at the Western Wall plaza. "Education is an integral part of security."
In a markedly political address, President Shimon Peres reiterated that Israel had extended its hand in peace.
"We are ready to pay the price for peace, for smiling children, be they Palestinian, Jordanian, Egyptian or Syrian," he said. "In Israel's wars, we have lost wonderful generations of tomorrow. We have lost our beloved children."
"We dream peace without accepting surrender. We want to shake hands, but our enemies know we are also able to pull the trigger in defense," the president said.
At 8 p.m. on a cool Jerusalem night, at the start of the somber half-hour ceremony, which was broadcast live on all television and radio stations, a minute-long air raid siren sounded and a memorial torch was lit.
The national flag was lowered to half-mast next to the Western Wall.
In between speeches, an army chaplain recited prayers, including the Kaddish prayer for the dead.
The solemn ceremony concluded with "Hatikva," as bereaved relatives joined with soldiers to sing the national anthem.
On Wednesday at 11 a.m., a two-minute siren sounded, marking the start of memorial ceremonies at scores of military cemeteries across the country.
Remembrance Day will end at 8 p.m. with the traditional torch-lighting ceremony at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl Military Cemetery, marking the abrupt transition from sorrow to joy and Israel's 60th Independence Day.
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