Ministers fail to show at Yom Kippur War ceremony

"It's an embarrassment for government that they failed to attend" says Head of Yad Labanim Organization which supports bereaved families.

 Kiryat Shaul Cemetry R 311 (photo credit: NIR ELIAS / Reuters)
Kiryat Shaul Cemetry R 311
(photo credit: NIR ELIAS / Reuters)
The Yom Kippur War ceremony in Tel Aviv was almost canceled on Sunday after not a single government minister attended, causing uproar among the bereaved families.
The ceremony, held annually at the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery, which is the resting place of 780 soldiers who were killed during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, was supposed to begin at 4 p.m. but was delayed after government representatives failed to arrive.
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Eli Ben-Shem, head of the Yad Labanim organization, which supports bereaved families, said some of the parents wanted to cancel the ceremony. According to Ben- Shem, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon was originally supposed to attend the ceremony on behalf of the government but informed him on Friday he would not be able to come and Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled would replace him.
“Ten minutes before the ceremony was set to begin I received a phone call informing me that neither minister would come,” Ben-Shem said. “This is a major embarrassment for the government that not a single minister or Knesset member could find the time to come to the ceremony.”
Ben-Shem spoke to Peled who told him he had stipulated his attendance from the beginning on the condition that the government completes the vote on the Trajtenberg Report by 3 p.m.
Peled told Ben-Shem he called Ya’alon at 2:30 p.m. and informed him he would not be able to make it to the ceremony due to the prolonged debate over the report.
In the end, Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau spoke at the ceremony.
He was not originally scheduled to speak.
“With all due respect to social justice there needs to be justice for the fallen and for the bereaved families,” Ben-Shem said. “Every year it is the same story. We need to beg ministers to come. I don’t understand how there are 30 ministers in the government and 120 MKs and not a single one can find the time to make it.”
Earlier in the day, the state held its annual ceremony at the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem to remember the 2,689 soldiers who fell during the 1973 war. The IDF said there are 1,226 orphans and 810 widows from the war living in Israel.
The ceremony was attended by Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i and a number of Knesset members.
“Unfortunately, the Yom Kippur War was not the last war and the fight for Israel’s security is still not over,” Vilna’i said.