The IDF honors, on Israel’s official Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, the memory of 22,993 fallen soldiers who have given their lives since 1860.
Over the past year 126 soldiers were added to the count.
The number of bereaved Israeli families in 2012 is 10,524 including 2,396 orphans and 4,992 widows.
Israeli Memorial Day events began Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. with honorary ceremonies held across the country.
In a letter to IDF soldiers and commanders, the Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gantz wrote, “Another year passed, another year of standing guard, of relentless, exuberant, hard work ensuring the security of Israeli citizens. A year passed and again we stand at Memorial Day ceremonies, by graves of fallen brothers, facing monuments with a endless and unfathomable rows of names of the fallen.”
“A year passed, and Memorial Day once again lays its heavy silence on the entire Israeli nation. This year as well, the IDF is missing soldiers among its ranks, grieving but powerful, remembering thousands of fallen commanders and soldiers who fell throughout the years,” wrote Lt. Gen. Gantz.
The Chief of Staff added that “on this special day, we must look at ourselves, our units, and the IDF at large and ask: Are we fulfilling the mission of our generation? Are we bringing Israel to safe shores?”
“We see the IDF as a strong, determined, intimidating, technologically advanced, sophisticated military that can overcome any challenge at this monumental hour – when the Middle East is in turmoil, and terror organizations are relentlessly working to harm our civilians.”
Lt. Gen. Gantz concluded his letter, saying “We have another sacred duty – standing alongside the families of our fallen brothers and supporting all bereaved families. Parents, siblings, spouses and children who lost the dearest of all in a single day, and paid the heaviest price for the life and independence of Israel. Today, like every day, we embrace them as one powerful family – the family that is Israel Defense Forces, grieving over its fallen and embracing them forever.”