On Remembrance Day eve Peres emphasizes peace

The president says it is our duty to "not spare any effort to eliminate war from the land," while Chief of Staff Gantz warns, "even if it seems that enemy isn't knocking on our door, don't let the quiet fool you."

Gantz and Peres Yom HaZikaron ceremony 370 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Gantz and Peres Yom HaZikaron ceremony 370
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
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 lost.
“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.”
“But 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 said.
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 gratitude.
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 synagogues.
They went out, took off their tallitot and put on a uniform.
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 developing.”
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 ever.”
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.
Netanyahu 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 Sunday.
“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.
The defense minister added that, with their deaths, Israel’s fallen soldiers had granted Israel the right to fight for its existence.
“The struggle, 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.
“We’ll 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,” he added.
“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 IDF soldiers.
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,” Gantz continued.
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.