Holocaust survivor and granddaughter activate Holocaust Remembrance Day siren

Thursday morning, Eyal arrived at the Home Front Command's alert center where his granddaughter serves and, together with her, pressed the button that activated the siren all over the country.

 Holocaust survivor and granddaughter activate Holocaust Remembrance Day siren. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Holocaust survivor and granddaughter activate Holocaust Remembrance Day siren.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The Holocaust Remembrance Day siren was activated on Thursday by a Holocaust survivor and former senior IDF officer, along with his granddaughter.

The siren – which sounded for two minutes across the country, bringing it to a standstill to remember the victims of the Holocaust – was activated by Brig.-Gen. (res.) Reuven Eyal and Private Shani Eyal who serves as an alert operator at the Homefront Command Headquarters.

Reuven Eyal was born in 1935 in Transylvania, Romania. His father was taken to a forced labor camp during the Holocaust and in 1948, Eyal and his brother immigrated to Israel. He enlisted in the IDF in 1953 and completed the pilot's course in 1955. During his time in the military, he held a number of positions in the air force, including heading the enemy weapons research branch, head of the intelligence research department, commander of the Sde Dov air base and more.

He served as a pilot and commander during Operation Kadesh, the Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, and the Peace in the Galilee War (first Lebanon War).

His last recent role in Israel’s military was head of the Intelligence Corps in the Air Force, during which he was also involved in Operation Opera which destroyed Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981.

 Holocaust survivor and granddaughter activate Holocaust Remembrance Day siren. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) Holocaust survivor and granddaughter activate Holocaust Remembrance Day siren. (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

On Thursday morning, Eyal arrived at the Home Front Command's alert center where his granddaughter serves, and with her, pressed the button that activated the siren all over the country.

"The Holocaust period is a groundbreaking event, following which many decided to immigrate to Eretz Israel, to a country where they feel safe,” Eyal said. “It is important for me to pass on to the younger generation that the future of the country is in their hands.

"My heart is full of joy to see my granddaughter, holding the torch and continuing to pass on the feeling to future generations, supporting the safe existence of the state and warning against threats,” he said.

“I am proud of her and the unit in which she serves – and today I had a historic moment, a moment of victory.”

His granddaughter, Shani, also shared that it was a privilege to activate the siren along with her grandfather.

"I am proud of the path my grandfather went through during his life and the person he became” she said. “I am excited to activate the siren in memory of millions of Holocaust victims with him on behalf of all the residents of the State of Israel. For me, it is a great privilege that takes on additional significance today thanks to the role in which I serve.”

On Wednesday evening, speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the stories of survivors showed the power of the Jewish people.

"With the establishment of the state, there was a silence of the survivors – so that the story of the strong Jewish people, who do not go like sheep to the slaughter, can be rewritten," he said.

"For me, their story is not a story of weakness, but power within – which is a promise. Out of difficulties, they established settlements and created new identities. Out of horror grew children who continued to realize the Zionist vision; out of the horror grew children who enlisted in the IDF and became commanders.”

In the name of Zionism, Gantz said, Holocaust survivors immigrated to Israel and fought “to be masters of their own destiny, to ensure on their own: 'Never Again.'”

Speaking at the ceremony which focused on Jewish children who survived the Holocaust, Israel Air Force head Maj.-Gen. Tomer Bar saluted the heroism of Jewish youth who, during the war “for the sake of their families, for the courage of boys and girls, fought in the forests alongside the partisans until their last drop of blood.”