Israel commemorates fallen soldiers, terror victims on memorial day

GMT 22:33 2016 Tuesday ,10 May

Arab Today, arab today Israel commemorates fallen soldiers, terror victims on memorial day

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Jerusalem - XINHUA

Israel started commemorating its annual Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims on Tuesday afternoon.

The Day of Remembrance pays tribute to the soldiers killed during their military service and wars, as well as the victims of terror attacks.

The day kicked off on Tuesday afternoon with an official ceremony in Jerusalem, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Various ceremonies and memorials will be held across the country in the upcoming 24 hours, from late Tuesday to Wednesday evening.

Netanyahu spoke at the official ceremony in Jerusalem about being a bereaved brother. Netanyahu's brother, Yonatan Netanyahu, died in an overseas Israeli commando operation in Uganda in 1976 aiming at releasing Israeli hostages held there.

"As a son of a bereaved family, I carry the burden of agony and pain that won't let go," the Israeli prime minister told bereaved families who attended the ceremony.

He added that living at this turbulent time demands a "heavy personal and national price" but that Israel must defend itself and stand firm against its enemies.

"We do not relinquish the hope of making peace with our enemies, but first we should make peace amongst ourselves," Netanyahu said, adding that this memorial day is a "deep expression" of the joint fate of the Israeli people.

Rivlin, who released a statement to Jewish communities worldwide ahead of the Memorial Day and the following celebrations of Israel's 68-year independence, mentioned the current ongoing wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, which has claimed the lives of 28 Israelis and 203 Palestinians since October.

"Sadly, over the last year Israel had faced a wave of terrible terror attacks which has brought much pain and left many scars," the president said, adding that terror "will not overcome us, even though it may take a terrible price."

Among the ceremonies, the official candle lighting will be held in the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem at night with Rivlin and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, along with members of bereaved families.

Horns will be activated on Tuesday at 8 p.m. local time (GMT 0600) for one minute of silence and at 11 a.m. (GMT 0900) for two minutes of silence on Wednesday.

Shops and businesses will be closed on Tuesday evening, with TV channels airing footage on bereaved families and the stories of fallen soldiers and radio stations playing melancholic tunes.

According to official figures, 23,447 Israeli soldiers and terror victims have been killed since 1860. As of 2016, there are 16,307 bereaved families living in Israel.

The commemoration of the Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers is marked a week after the Memorial Holocaust Remembrance Day, and precedes the celebrations of the Israeli Independence day, which begins on Wednesday evening and continues throughout Thursday.

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