Following a media storm this April surrounding IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz's decision only to lay Israeli flag by Jewish graves in last year's Memorial Day ceremony - despite the fact that the last solider killed in the line of duty before the ceremony last year was not Jewish - the IDF announced today that the ceremony program has been changed.
A IDF spokesperson stated today (Tuesday) that while past years' ceremonies have featured the flag-laying ceremony, which involves the IDF Chief of Staff placing an Israeli flag by the grave of the last soldier fallen that year in a show of solidarity and gratitude, future ceremonies will be changed in deference to concerns raised by members of the general public.
After consultations with Orna Barbivai, the General of the IDF's Manpower Directorate, along with the Department of Families and Remembrance from the Ministry of Defense, it was decided that future Memorial Day ceremonies will be more universal and under a different format, while still maintaining the spirit of the original proceedings.
Beginning from next year, the ceremony will be held on Har Herzl in Gantz's presence, and will include both an established annual ceremony and a part of proceedings that will change according to that year's events. Instead of Gantz choosing one grave to place a flag by, several soldiers will place flags at every graveside - old and new - while Gantz will commemorate the acts of bravery and sacrifice of IDF soldiers during all of Israel's many wars.
Last year, several public criticisms were made stating that Gantz cared more about the origin and standing of fallen soldiers than the act of commemorating the sacrifices of every soldier who fell in Israel's wars.