Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "We will not give up our hope to achieve peace with our enemies- But first we will achieve peace with ourselves" during a speech in Jerusalem on Tuesday memorializing fallen soldiers.
The ceremony was attended by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
Tuesday's events will conclude on Wednesday evening with a candle-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl and will kick off Israel's 68th Independence Day celebration.
Netanyahu spoke of the grief that accompanies Memorial Day and commented that "this day is the nation's chance to honor those who have fallen and acknowledge their sacrifice."
"Jews, Druze, Muslims, Christians, Circassians, men and women-- all share one fate" Netanyahu said.
The premeir, who lost his brother Yoni Netanyahu during Operation Antebbe, shared his personal feelings on being part of a bereaved family, and spoke to those who had also lost loved ones in the service of Israel."When my parents and I received the news of what had happened to my brother, my whole world fell apart. This is what has happened to you. For the remainder of our lives we will fight to come out of the destruction, " Netanyahu said. "We will never completely escape it, but there is always new beginnings."
The ceremony in which Netanyahu spoke started at 4:30 p.m.
At 8 p.m., at the Western Wall, President Reuven Rivlin and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will lead the lighting of the memorial candle ceremony.
A two-minute siren will wail nationwide at 11 a.m. Wednesday, marking the start of memorial ceremonies at the country’s 52 military cemeteries.
The official state memorial ceremony will begin at that hour on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, led by Rivlin, Netanyahu and Eisenkot. At the same time, the Kiryat Shaul military ceremony in Tel Aviv will host a memorial event led by the defense minister.
At 1 p.m., Rivlin and Eisenkot will lead a memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl honoring the victims of terrorism.
The Defense Ministry expects some 1.5 million Israelis to visit military cemeteries across the country throughout Wednesday.
Magen David Adom will station 132 ambulances at the graveyards.