Names of victims of terrorism won’t be included on a new memorial for slain soldiers at the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, the High Court ruled Tuesday.
The court dismissed a motion filed forward by the Terror Victims’ Association in Israel, ruling that the commemoration of the two groups would be separate. The decision would affect national memorials around the country and not only the one at Mount Herzl, the Israeli news site Globes reported.
The Terror Victims’ Association had argued that the Defense Ministry should not discriminate against civilians killed by enemy forces in a state-sponsored memorial.
The Defense Ministry and Yad Lebanim, an organization for families of fallen soldiers, countered that the men and women who died while serving the country should be commemorated differently from terror victims to preserve the symbolism and unique nature of their deaths.
Court President Asher Grunis noted in his ruling that although the two parties — terror victims and fallen soldiers — are close at heart, it is up to the government to decide how to memorialize them at national sites.
The issue of how to memorialize terror victims, soldiers and others is a touchy one in Israel, where wars and terror attacks affect nearly every family.
In January, a similar issue surfaced when Yed Lebanim and the Terror Victims’ Association in Israel paired together in challenging the government’s intent to commemorate three firemen killed in the Carmel blaze together with victims of terror. The two groups argued that firemen were akin to soldiers who had fallen in action and not terror victims.
The plan for the memorial site, known as Hall of Names, was unanimously approved by the government last April. The hall will memorialize under one roof all those who died in Israel’s service, and it is intended as a future site for national ceremonies and official visits. The cost of the project is estimated at NIS 40 million.
At the time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded the decision to construct the hall as an important step for the country’s ethos.
“We have no central hall to enshrine the memories of the fallen of Israel’s wars. After decades of talking about it, the time has come to make a decision. We are a people that overflows with memory. We are doing this out of deep recognition of the contribution of the fallen, and I hope that such places will no longer be necessary,” he said then.