Israel bowed its head in honor of its fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism
on Sunday evening. Following a minute-long nationwide siren, an official state
ceremony was held at the Western Wall, in which Magi Lakrif – widow of the late
Capt. Nir Lakrif, who was killed at the age of 26 in the helicopter training
disaster in Romania in 2010 – lit a remembrance torch.
At the ceremony,
President Shimon Peres told bereaved families, “In a day or two the flags will
be folded. The trumpets will return to their regular sounds and Israel will go
back to its daily routine.
You will also return to your regular routines,
but it will never be the same as ours.”
“You will hear family members,
friends, acquaintances all try to speak to you,” Peres continued, “but the words
get lost. Because in front of your eyes and your faces words are
“We are those that know your routine will never be like ours. We
are those that know the secret of your tearstained pillow at night,” the
president said. “There are no words that can comfort the loss.”
perhaps it will comfort you, even a little, the knowledge that we, your family,
your friends, we remember them and will always remember them,” the president
Peres quoted Nurit Dagan, whose son was killed by a Palestinian
suicide bomber at Beit Lid in 1995 (the lives of 21 soldiers and a civilian were
claimed in the blast), saying, “The hardest thing is living, to carry on as if
nothing has happened. To know that the sun rises and sets even without you. The
easiest thing is to wear dark clothes, to curl up at home in painful silence. It
is hardest to buy new clothes, to put on makeup, to go to the cinema and the
theatre, to go to friends’ weddings.”
The president added, “Here, next to
the sacred stones of the Kotel, I say on behalf of all of Israel, that you, the
fallen of Israel’s wars, deserve eternal glory and our ultimate
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen.
Benny Gantz told the
families who had gathered at the ceremony, “The stories of the fallen remind us
of those thanks to whom we walk down our paths.
“Their loss,” he said,
“represents a sacrifice by the families that is many times greater than what one
can describe in writing or in speech.
“The IDF is an army in their name.
We educate and train our fighters and carry out missions as the paths of fallen
act as candles at our feet,” Gantz said.
Noting the upcoming 40th
anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, Gantz said, “We remember the sirens of war in
the skies of Israel and underneath the masses of worshippers in
They went out, took off their tallitot and put on a
Beyond the heavy loss and victory, we remember their readiness
to go out and fight, their readiness to defend the country.”
“Even if it
seems that the enemy isn’t knocking on our door,” Gantz warned, “don’t let the
quiet fool you. Under the surface, things are bubbling. There are new threats
He added, “Tonight we take a sober look at our enemies… and
I say to you, our shield of defense is more fortified than ever, our sword is
sharper than ever… When we’ll be called, we’ll show that we are readier than
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on Sunday to a group
gathered at the Jerusalem headquarters of Yad Labanim, a volunteer organization
dedicated to commemorating Israel’s fallen soldiers and assisting bereaved
families, a few hours before the memorial siren was sounded.
emphasized to the group that Remembrance Day honors not only Jewish soldiers who
have fallen, but all soldiers who have died serving in the IDF, “Muslims,
Christians, Beduin, Druse, and Jews... soldiers that have come from all walks of
society... we feel their loss.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon referred
to the families of Israel’s fallen soldiers as “a symbol of the perseverance of
the Israeli society” in a statement released ahead of Remembrance Day on
“This evening and tomorrow we will go to the cemeteries with
great pain and sorrow in memorial ceremonies. We will stand there with the
unparalleled strength and self-sacrifice which serve as the basis for the
existence of this country,” Ya’alon’s statement read.
minister added that, with their deaths, Israel’s fallen soldiers had granted
Israel the right to fight for its existence.
unfortunately, has still not ended. It changes its face, takes a different form,
opens up on different fronts and forces us to fight each time anew and sacrifice
the best of our sons and daughters.”
Earlier on Sunday, in a message
delivered to all of Israel’s soldiers, Gantz vowed to continue supporting
bereaved families, and said that the military will continue to operate far and
near to defend Israelis from hostile threats.
“Today, on Remembrance Day
for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism, the Israeli nation unites in pain
and esteem around the fallen,” Gantz said in the message.
strengthen the bereaved families, members of the IDF family, in their difficult
and ongoing struggle with the loss of their loved ones. On Remembrance Day, as
at all times, we embrace them and offer them our hand and a shoulder to lean on,
to ease things for them and to assist as much as we can. This is our obligation
to them. This is the will of the lives and deaths of our brothers, the fallen,”
“For 65 years, Israel has had to fight and win. Every
generation, in turn, carries Israel’s security on its shoulders. And to our
heart’s sorrow, every generation, in turn, has missing from its ranks the fallen
Every war exacts from us a painful price in blood,” said
the chief of staff.
“But against an enemy that seeks to harm our
civilians and our country, an enemy that has not come to terms with our
existence in the Land of Israel, we have no other choice but to fight and win,”
Israel is facing changing and developing threats around
it, and the IDF is prepared to act, he warned.
“We’ll continue to pursue
those who seek our harm, we’ll continue to report for duty, prepared and
determined, to defend the State of Israel,” said Gantz. Jerusalem Post
staff contributed to this report.