A minute-long siren at 8 pm on Tuesday announced the start of one of the most difficult days in the Israeli calendar: Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, the day of remembering the 23,928 people who gave their lives fighting for and defending the State of Israel, including victims of terror.
The below video is entirely in Hebrew.
All commercial venues closed at 7 pm in commemoration of the fallen.
The siren followed a remembrance ceremony several hours earlier at the Yad LaBanim House in Jerusalem.
Right after the siren, the country’s national service was held at the Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem.
The day, continuing into Wednesday, is marked by memories, tears, song and sadness starting from the very highest levels of the Israeli government – even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not exempt from the tragedy and pain.
In one segment among the many of Tuesday evening in the “Songs in Their Memory” ceremony, held at the Knesset and broadcast live in Jerusalem by Israel’s Kan 11 public television station, Netanyahu narrated events in his own family that followed the death of his older brother Yoni, who led the elite commandos sent to rescue more than 100 Jewish hostages being held by terrorists at Entebbe Airport.
It was clear from his voice, thick with emotion, that memories of the fallen never fade.
At that time, today’s prime minister was a university student in the United States; but he was the one who got the call that all families dread, informing him of Yoni’s death.
“I didn’t think there could be anything more painful that someone being told that his brother was killed in action,” Netanyahu said in a husky voice.
“But then I found out that there was pain even greater than that – having to be the one to inform your parents that your brother, their son was killed.”
The names of the fallen are being aired continuously on Israel’s Channel 26 until the end of Yom HaZikaron. This year 112 names were added to the list of the fallen. Among those were 69 former soldiers who passed away from injuries sustained during service.
An 8 pm Masa Israel ceremony for English speakers at Latrun was held to commemorate those fallen soldiers and terror victims who were immigrants from the Diaspora.
A second siren will be heard in the morning at 11 am Wednesday, launching the start of the nationwide remembrance ceremony being held at military cemeteries and memorial sites throughout Israel.
A central ceremony is scheduled for 11:02 am, right after the siren, at the National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen at Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.
Families are asked by the government to limit graveside visits to immediate family only, due to coronavirus restrictions.
The memorials and mourning will come to an end at sunset on Wednesday, as they do every year and when the night begins, Israelis will move into celebrations marking the nation’s 73rd Independence Day, Yom Ha’Atzma’ut.