As part of this year’s Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) services, Israelis are commemorating the deaths of 23,477 soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks. During the past year, 68 soldiers and police officers have died protecting the country, and 32 civilians have died in terror attacks.
“For over 68 years we have been fighting the same war, the war for our independence,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said during memorial services at Jerusalem’s Western Wall on Tuesday evening. “It is a painful battle that all the time adds fresh scars to the body and spirit of this ancient and robust people.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will continue to try to achieve peace with the country’s enemies.
“We will not give up on the hopes of reconciliation with our enemies, but first we will reconcile among ourselves, and there is no deeper expression of our shared fate than when we remember, with love, and salute our heroic sons and daughters who fell so that we could live in our country,” Netanyahu said.
A two-minute siren will wail across Israel at 11 a.m. Wednesday to mark the start of memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries. The day’s events will conclude with a candle-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl, after which point Israelis kick off their 68th Independence Day celebrations.