(April 18, 2018 / JNS) Memorial sirens sounded at 11 a.m. in Israel to honor the memories of 23,646 Israeli soldiers, police and security officers, and 3,134 terror victims who have fallen since the beginning of Israel’s history.
The number is tallied since 1860, when the first Jewish neighborhood was erected outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Police have urged the public to be aware of traffic around Israel’s 52 military cemeteries and hundreds of military sections of civilian cemeteries, which will receive an estimated 1.5 million Israeli mourners and visitors.
A national televised commemoration ceremony broadcast began at 11:02 a.m., started with a prayer for the dead by Israel Defense Forces Chief Rabbi Brig. Gen. Eyal Karim. In attendance were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin, Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and other top Israeli officials.
An additional official ceremony honoring the 3,134 who died in acts of terror is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
“We will not stop for a moment to work for the country your children fought for,” Rivlin told bereaved families at the Western Wall on Tuesday night, at the official state ceremony initiating this year’s Memorial Day.
“We did not leap into the tunnels as right-wingers or left-wingers, we did not lie in the trenches as the periphery and moshav communities, we did not storm the enemy as kibbutzim, villages and cities,” said the president. “We will continue to be a society that fearlessly and relentlessly pushes back any enemy which contests our right for a home in our land,” he added. “At the same time, we will not let any rift, gap or divide embed itself among us.”
Included in this year’s list of casualties are 71 new names, including 30 disabled veterans who died as a result of complications from injuries sustained during service. The tally also includes soldiers who died in car accidents and non-battlefield causes.
An additional 12 names were added to the list of Israeli terror victims.
Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, was established by Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in 1951, and is commemorated on the eve of Israel’s Independence Day.