Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and Israel's Chief Rabbis on Tuesday attended a flag-lowering ceremony in Jerusalem as Memorial Day is set to begin.
“For bereaved families, time stops when you get the terrible news… it cuts your life in two: what was before, and what will never be again,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told more than 200 soldiers and bereaved families gathered for the Yad Lebanim Memorial for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars.
“When you hear the siren tonight, we will turn into one family, and the citizens of Israel will be united in our remembrance,” Netanyahu said, recalling his own brother – Yoni Netanyahu – who was killed during the 1976 Entebbe rescue operation.
Yad Lebanim (“A Memorial for the Sons”) is the organization that supports bereaved families in cooperation with the Defense Ministry and official government bodies. The Jerusalem memorial, located near the government quarter, is the central memorial for soldiers killed in action in the capital.
Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror will officially commence Tuesday night at 20:00 local time when the siren at the Western Wall is sounded for one minute of silent remembrance.
The ceremony there will be attended by President Shimon Peres, IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, and many families bereaved by war and terror.
Another siren will sound at 11 a.m., bringing the entire country to a standstill in memory of the fallen soldiers and those killed by acts of terror. Memorial events will take place at military cemeteries, at schools and places of work.
The number who have fallen in IDF service and in terror attacks in Israel since the First Aliya in 1860 presently stands at 22,993.
During its War of Independence the Jewish state lost 6,373 of its people, about 1% of its population, in the war. Of those 2477 were civilians. Some 120 foreign nationals, tourists, and workers were also killed during Israel's War of Independence.
Last year, 15 Israelis were killed in hostilities. A total of 126 soldiers died while on active duty with the IDF during 2011, as well.
A ceremony at the Knesset this evening will include the reading of "memory poems" by the Knesset Speaker, assorted government ministers, and Israel's police commissioner, Yohanan Danino.
The poems are written by the bereaved families and friends of Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
The flag will remain at half-staff until sundown on Wednesday, when Yom Haatzmaut – Israeli Independence Day – begins.