Yom Hazikaron (the Day of Remembrance) began last night and will continue into this evening as it leads into Yom Haatzmaut – Israel’s Independence Day.
Last night, a siren was sounded at 8pm to signal the start of the day, given that in the Hebrew calendar system a day begins at sunset.
Another siren was sounded at 11 o’clock this morning around Israel, marking the opening of official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at cemeteries where soldiers are buried.
The sirens are sounded throughout the country, during which time Israelis stop everything (including driving, with many cars coming to a stop on motorways) and stand in silence to remember the fallen.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid his respects to the families who have lost loved ones in the numerous wars Israel has fought in as well as families bereaved from acts of terrorism.
At a ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem earlier today, the Prime Minister said: “For the bereaved families who have lost loved ones, this Remembrance Day we memorialise those who were lost, and on this day all of the people of Israel feel this agony with you”.
He continued: “This Remembrance Day lends itself to internal reconciliation, which should accompany us all year long… In Israel, the boys and girls who defend our nation along with their families should feel pride”.
There have been 23,447 casualties of war and terrorism in Israel since 1860, when Jews were first allowed to live in then Palestine outside Jerusalem’s Old City.
Israel’s Defence Ministry said that there were 68 casualties in the past year, and 58 disabled IDF veterans died of their wounds.
This includes the 34 victims of terror attacks against Israelis over the last nine months, which have seen a violent wave of deadly stabbing, car-ramming and shooting attacks carried out by Palestinians.
April was the first month with zero fatalities among victims of terror attacks since September.