The opening ceremony of the Memorial Day events is underway in Jerusalem. Present at the ceremony are Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Supreme Court President Judge Asher Grunis.
“We have always been forced to fight for our freedom and for our existence,” the prime minister said. “The haters of Israel have exiled us, persecuted us and sought to annihilate Israel. Nowadays, we also witness those who want to annihilate us. They couldn’t do it; they never will.
“We are not interested in war, but will set out to one if we are forced to do so.”
Netanyahu stressed that “Israel’s fallen came from all walks of life. We cherish their tremendous contribution.”
Edelstein said at the ceremony: “We did not choose the war. We are weary after years of exile and oppression, expulsions, destruction, pogroms and death camps. All we wanted was to find rest.
“As long as a child in Sderot is threatened and the in the Eshkol region a farmer cannot tend to his land, we intend to stand up for their protection, willing to pay the price of freedom. We will fight for our honor, for our freedom and our independence.”
Earlier Sunday, at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu said “We’re here thanks to Israeli fighters who enlisted to the struggle for our existence, thanks to those who survived Israel’s campaigns and those who fell.”
The PM added that “today’s threats to Israel are greater than in the past, but the IDF and the security branches are stronger than ever. We’ll keep striving for peace with our neighbors and securing fearlessly Israel’s future.”
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon released a statement: “The same as every year, as evening descends, the State of Israel mourns its fallen.
“The Earth stands still. With immense pain and unrelenting yearning pass before our eyes the images of family, friends, subordinates and comrades at arms, who paid the highest price.
“Memories which accompany us and will continue to do so for the rest of our lives, and with them a sense of infinite distress and troubling questions of what might have been, and where would they have been today.”
Addressing the bereaved families, Ya’alon wrote: “There is no remedy for the sorrow which follows you every day. Coping isn’t easy, and the wounds refuse to heal.
“But in your bravery you are a symbol for the perseverance of Israeli society, which repeatedly stands up to the challenges facing it.”
Ahead of the eve of Remembrance Day for fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism, bereaved families were gathering in military cemeteries across the country on Sunday.The number of Israelis who fell while in the line of duty stands at 23,085 on the eve of Remembrance Day.
The passing year has seen 92 names added to the list, 37 IDF soldiers, 12 members of the security forces and 43 disabled IDF veterans. The number of fallen soldiers whose place of burial remains unknown stands at 555.
Read more at Ynet News.