Events marking Israel’s Remembrance Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism will begin Sunday afternoon with a ceremony attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other dignitaries.
Later, a minute-long siren will blare, and Israelis will bow their heads in memory of the 23,085 members of the country’s security forces who died while in active service.
Remembrance Day marks the beginning of a 48-hour period during which Israelis abruptly go from reflecting on national loss to celebrating their national independence.
“We are here thanks to Israel’s fighters who joined the struggle for our existence, thanks to those who survived the wars and thanks to those who fell. We do not forget, even for a second, that we are here thanks to the fallen,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “Today, while the accumulated threats against the State of Israel are greater than in the past, both the IDF and our security services are stronger than ever. We will continue to strengthen our security, we will continue to aspire for peace with our neighbors, and we will continue to ensure the future of our country.”
In addition to servicemen and women, Remembrance Day commemorates the 2,493 civilians who were killed in terror attacks.
Over the past year, 92 names were added to the list of fallen among the ranks of Israel’s security forces. That number includes all soldiers who died while in active service, whether they fell in the battlefield or died of accidents or disease.
Memorial services will be held on Sunday evening and Monday throughout the country, with millions of Israelis visiting the gravesides of deceased family members.
Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, on Saturday evening went to Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery to visit the grave of his brother Yoni, who was killed in 1976 while leading an assault force to free Israeli hostages at the Entebbe airport.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, Netanyahu, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and other dignitaries will attend a ceremony in Jerusalem at the building of Yad LeBanim, an association of bereaved families.
At 8 p.m., Remembrance Day will officially commence with the siren and a ceremony at the Western Wall attended by President Shimon Peres and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, among others.
Another ceremony is set to take place at 9 p.m. at Jerusalem’s Sultan’s Pool, featuring singers and storytellers.
In Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, Mayor Ron Huldai and the city’s chief rabbi, Yisrael Meir Lau, will attend a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. An hour later, prominent Israeli performers will play at Rabin Square in an open event that will also feature video clips about the fallen.
On Monday morning at 11 a.m., a second, two-minute-long siren will sound. During the day, there will be ceremonies in memory of Israel’s fallen police officers and those who were killed in terror attacks.
The Jewish Agency will hold a ceremony in front of its Jerusalem building in memory of the 200 Jews who were killed worldwide in anti-Semitic attacks since the establishment of the State of Israel
Children in schools throughout the country will attend memorial services on Sunday and Monday.
Later, when darkness descends, Israel will pass into its 65th Independence Day in a striking transition from sirens and memory to fireworks and revelry.