President Shimon Peres said on Tuesday that, 64 years after it was established, Israel still has enemies who seek its destruction.
Speaking at the opening ceremony in honor of Memorial Day at the Western Wall plaza, Peres said, “Israel was born out of a big dream and it has built a reality that has exceeded the size of the dream. But still we must build and defend Israel. I dream of being able to just be a man of good news, I wish I could come here and tell you that the hatred towards our country has ceased. That our enemies have been defeated, that we will live only in peace, now and forever. But, unfortunately, we haven’t yet reached this.
“The State of Israel, that your children have paid the highest and most painful price for its creation, existence and security, its existence is certain. But its well-being is still under threat. There are those who lurking and wait for it,” Peres added.
Directly addressing the bereaved families, Peres said, “We will always owe your children. And ours. No act or gesture on our part can be a cure for your endless pain. The sleepless nights, the tears at the corner of the eye, the memories that won’t let go.”
He concluded by expressing his hope that “in the coming year, we will be able to defend ourselves and stand united and strong. We will continue to look for a way to bring peace to Israel.”
Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terror officially began at 20:00 local time when the siren at the Western Wall sounded for one minute of silent remembrance.
The number who have fallen due to racial violence, war and terror 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.