A two-minute siren was heard across the country at 10 a.m., during which Israelis observed a moment of silence for the six million Jews who perished in Europe under Nazi rule.
Ceremonies honouring the victims of the Holocaust are being held across Israel, with the central event taking place at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem and at the Knesset in Jerusalem.
Events will officially end with evening ceremonies at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, named after those who resisted the Nazis in Warsaw and the leader of the uprising, Mordechai Anielewicz.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin said the State of Israel was not established as compensation for the Holocaust and that both past horrors and present threats would not dictate the future.
President Rivlin said “We will not belittle any threats. Nor belittle shameful statements calling for the extinction of the Jewish people. Yet, while we are prepared, we are not scared… The horrors of the past and the threats of the present, will not dictate our lives, nor shape the lives of our children. They will not dim our hopes for a future of creation and prosperity.”
The President also expressed his deep appreciation for the survivors of the Holocaust who rebuilt their lives in Israel, crediting the strength of character of the survivors as continuing to inspire the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the event saying that “the main lesson of the Second World War, for democracies, is that they cannot turn a blind eye to tyrannical regimes… Appeasement towards these regimes increases their aggressiveness. If this aggressiveness is not curbed in time, humanity may find itself in far greater wars in the future.”