Israel began marking Memorial Day on Monday night as a one-minute commemorative siren sounded across the country.
Fifty-nine Israeli soldiers fell in the line of duty in the past year, and an additional 86 disabled veterans died due to their condition. Overall, 24,213 soldiers have lost their lives in service to the nation since 1860.
Commemorations are taking place at 52 military cemeteries and memorial sites during the next 24 hours, with the main ceremony held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. President Isaac Herzog and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi were set to address the central event.
On Tuesday at 11 a.m., the nation will again come to a standstill when a two-minute siren sounds throughout the country. It will be immediately followed by an air force flyover of the Memorial Hall at Mount Herzl. Another state ceremony will then take place there, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in attendance.
The names of Israel’s fallen soldiers will be broadcast on Israeli television from 8:45 p.m. on Monday until the following day, and can also be found on the Izkor website.
Netanyahu has called on citizens to put aside differences, especially as it relates to the debate over the government’s judicial reform initiative, for one day, as the country finds common cause in mourning its heroes.
“[As] we fix our gaze on the military sections in the cemeteries, every headstone there tells the story of a life that was cut short. The unity of silent bereavement in the cemeteries cries out to us at this time. Our loved ones who fell, our loved ones who paid for our revival with their lives, did so for us—and we must stand together for them, united, in order to be worthy of their sacrifice,” said the premier.
IDF chief Halevi similarly implored citizens to be mindful of the sensitivities of others while mourning as a collective.
“Our independence is formed in this junction where choosing life meets the willingness to sacrifice it for the sake of the nation,” wrote Halevi in an op-ed referencing the death of Golani Brigade infantryman Yonatan Boyden that was republished by JNS.
“I have seen firsthand—time and again—how much pain his family has had to endure following his death. Their pain is shared by many bereaved families in Israel because bereavement has no address; it can find its way to any home whose sons and daughters serve in the military,” he continued.
“Memorial Day creates a deep connection between the personal and the national. This year, precisely because of the ongoing domestic tensions, we have to focus on our personal remembrance and imbue ourselves with its powerful human strength. The duty to remember should have us unite around it and focus on what brings us together,” Halevi wrote.
In a rare show of consensus, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid and National Unity Party head Benny Gantz also called for politics to be omitted from the special day.
Memorial Day ends on Tuesday night when Israel ushers in its 75th Independence Day.