Sirens sound as Israel honours its fallen

GMT 11:32 2015 Wednesday ,22 April

Arab Today, arab today Sirens sound as Israel honours its fallen

An Israeli visitor places a flower
Jerusalem - AFP

Israel marked its annual day of remembrance for fallen troops and slain civilians on Wednesday, with the country standing to attention for two minutes while sirens wailed.

Over the past year alone, 116 security force personnel have been killed in the line of duty, according to defence ministry figures.

In total, Israel remembers 23,320 fallen since 1860 in fighting for the national cause.

That was the year that Israel considers to be the start of the conflict with the Palestinians when Jews founded the first neighbourhood outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

In addition, 2,538 civilians have been killed in political violence since 1950, including 122 foreign visitors, according to National Insurance Institute figures.

Remembrance ceremonies began at sunset on Tuesday and continue until nightfall on Wednesday when the sombre mood gives way to raucous celebrations marking 67 years since the declaration of the Israeli state on May 14, 1948.

The date is marked according to the Jewish calendar and this year it falls on April 22.

- Population hits 8.3 million -


Palestinians mark the anniversary on May 15, when they commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe" of the creation of Israel, which sparked the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

On Tuesday, Israel added the name of a Palestinian teenager burned alive by his Jewish kidnappers to its memorial wall to the civilian victims of political violence, but it was later removed following objections from his family.

Haim Pitoussi, spokesman of the National Insurance Institute which administers the wall in Jerusalem's Mount Herzl national cemetery, confirmed that the name of Mohammed Abu Khder, 16, had been erased.

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Hussein Abu Khder said his son's name had been placed on the memorial without the family's consent.

"I am Palestinian, not Israeli, even if I am a resident of east Jerusalem, and I do not want his name written next to that of Israeli soldiers," he said.

There are two memorial walls on Mount Herzl -- one bearing the names of fallen soldiers and the other those of civilian victims.

New figures released ahead of Independence Day by the Central Bureau of Statistics showed Israel's population now stands at 8,345,000.

Of that number, 6,251,000 or 74.9 percent are Jews and 1,730,000 or 20.7 percent are Arabs.

The remaining 340,000 listed as "other" comprise non-Arab Christians, members of other religions and those unclassified in the population register.

The figures include around 310,000 Palestinian residents of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

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