Dan Shapiro (file)
Dan Shapiro (file)Flash90

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke at the 9/11 memorial ceremony in Emek HaArazim (near Jerusalem) on Thursday, in an emotional speech recounting that fateful day thirteen years ago. 

"The sights from that day will never leave us," Shapiro began. "Bright, blue skies were replaced by fireballs and black smoke, buildings collapsed and became dust, families distribute photos of lost love ones, and a huge hole was left near Pennsylvania the size of the hole in our hearts."

"But the stories of heroism will also stay with us," he added. 

Shapiro then related the events of 9/11 to the US's pledge to fight Islamist extremism in Iraq and Syria, as well as Israel's war on Hamas. 

"This day reminds us that we are experiencing extremism today around the world," he said. "Terror attacks are not only a tragedy for their victims and their countries, they threaten us all, all free societies."

"We must examine our strengths and our ability to defend ourselves, and we will never give in to fear," he added. "Well as Israel knows what the reality of life is under terror, and no country can afford to live like that."

Yet while the US has pledged to fight Islamic State, Shapiro insisted that Washington nonetheless supported Israel's quiet ceasefire against its enemies. 

"We support the ceasefire agreement and wish [on Israel] continued stability and a long-term solution," he said. "In two weeks, Israel and the global Jewish community will mark Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This is a time of hope and optimistic thinking."

On September 11, 2001, nineteen Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners and crashed them into the North Tower and South Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.; the fourth plane, also directed toward D.C., crashed into an open field near Shanksville, PA.

2,996 people lost their lives in the attacks, prompting then-US President George W. Bush to eventually launch the "war on terror" in Afghanistan and Iraq.