Izrael honors 22,993 fallen soldiers this Memorial Day

Izrael honors 22,993 fallen soldiers this Memorial Day
The day of commemoration begins at 8 p.m. (Israel time), when a siren will sound across the country for one minute, after which ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks get underway • Over the last year, 126 names have been added to the memorial list.

Lilach Shoval and Gideon Allon
A mourner at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv on Monday.

 
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Photo credit: Yossi Zeliger

 

The military section of the National Cemetery on Mount Herzl: Plastic seats await the bereaved.

 
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Photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch

 

 
 
 
 
A mourner at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv on Monday.

 
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Photo credit: Yossi Zeliger

 

Israelis will bow their heads on Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, which begins at sundown Tuesday, to honor the 22,993 people who have fallen in the line of duty since 1860 (when modern-day Jews first settled outside Jerusalem’s Old City).

 

The day of commemoration begins at 8 p.m. (Israel time), when a siren will sound across the country for one minute, after which ceremonies honoring the fallen soldiers and victims of terror attacks will get underway. Over the last year, 126 names have been added to those being memorialized.

 

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, another siren will sound for two minutes, to be followed by additional ceremonies. According to the Defense Ministry’s Bereaved Families and Commemoration Department, about 1 million Israelis are expected to visit military cemeteries across the country throughout the day.

 

The ministry will provide hundreds of buses to transport the public to military cemeteries across Israel, and will also supply bereaved families with more than 1 million bottles of mineral water at the entrance to the cemeteries. Over the course of Memorial Day, flags bearing a black ribbon will be placed at the gravesites of all the soldiers who fell during Israel’s wars. Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday placed flags at the graves of eight fallen soldiers at Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon, his birthplace.

 

Meanwhile, Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz attended a gathering at the Kiriya military complex in Tel Aviv Monday for the army’s general staff. „The last year has been a productive one and full of challenges that also point to the future that lies ahead,” Gantz said. He added that he hoped the army succeeded in implementing a multi-year plan starting next year.

„The region is changing around us, and any delay in finding solutions to these challenges could have dire consequences,” Gantz said. „We must look five or 10 years into the future, identify the challenges we face and present fitting solutions.”

 

Barak spoke of the 22,993 fallen soldiers, saying that their loss was a great one for the state. „Each of them was an entire world unto himself, and many of us carry the memory of dozens of friends who served with us,” he said. Barak also spoke about the challenges that lie ahead for Israel, saying, „We are at the start of an extremely important year. It is our responsibility to do everything possible to ensure it is a year of peace, and we must also be prepared with answers if it is not. We depend on you [the soldiers]. The State of Israel is strong as a result of the IDF’s strength and your actions.”

 

On Tuesday evening, thousands of bereaved families will attend a memorial ceremony called „Poems in their Memory,” to take place in the Knesset plaza. Initiated by the Knesset, Defense Ministry and Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the ceremony will feature dignitaries who will read excerpts from poems written by and about fallen soldiers. Among those scheduled to attend are Barak, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Welfare and Social Services Minister Moshe Kahlon.

 

A memorial ceremony will also be held at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, to be hosted by television personality turned politician Yair Lapid.

 

By Wednesday evening, the grief will be replaced by joy as Israel’s Independence Day events kick off with the official torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl. Due to an accident last week in which a lighting apparatus collapsed during a rehearsal for the ceremony, killing Lt. Hila Betzaleli, this year’s event will be more subdued than in previous years.