Israel came to a standstill to mark Yom Hazikaron, its national Memorial Day, and to commemorate the 23,646 fallen IDF soldiers and victims of terrorist attacks.
Israel came to a standstill to mark Yom Hazikaron, its national Memorial Day, and to commemorate the 23,646 fallen IDF soldiers and 3,134 victims of terrorist attacks who have died in the last 150 years.
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday morning, a siren marking Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, was sounded throughout the land of Israel, bringing the streets to a complete standstill.
Yom Hazikaron is one of the most somber dates on the Israeli calendar. Places of entertainment shut down. Radio and TV stations air documentaries about the fallen soldiers and terror victims.
The figure of 23,646 fallen soldiers is counted from when Jews first began to settle outside of Jerusalem in the 1860s, including 71 fallen IDF officers and soldiers who died in the past year. The last one to join the sad but distinguished list was Sgt. Eliyahu Drori, who was killed on Saturday in an operational accident.
Since the establishment of the state, 3,117 civilians were murdered in acts of terrorism. Since last year’s Yom Hazikaron, 12 civilians were killed in attacks. The latest victim was Adiel Kolman, a father of four who was stabbed to death in Jerusalem last month.
The dead include members of the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet (Israel’s Security Service), the Mossad, the Israel Police, the Israel Prisons Service and the World War II Jewish Brigade, including 148 fallen soldiers who were also Holocaust survivors and soldiers who died from their disabilities suffered during combat.
‘The Yearning and Lasting Pain’
“On this day, we bow our heads alongside bereaved families – our dear ones who experience daily the yearning and lasting pain,” stated IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.
“We remember the fallen whose place of burial remains unknown and we will carry a prayer that they all return to our borders,” he said.
“In light of the eternal fraternity tying us to our brothers in arms, we promise to strengthen and improve the lives of those who paid for our security, the wounded IDF servicemen,” he added.
There are currently some 9,000 bereaved parents in Israel, some 4,800 widows of fallen security servicemen, about 1,800 orphans under the age of 30 and thousands of bereaved siblings and older orphans.
Terrorist attacks have left many orphans, including about 100 orphans who have lost both parents, along with some 830 widows and widowers and some 940 bereaved parents.
More than 1.5 million Israelis visited Israel’s 52 military and other cemeteries throughout Yom Hazikaron.
The day’s events conclude with a candle-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl and the melancholic atmosphere ends sharply at sundown Wednesday when Israel kicks off its 70th Independence Day celebrations.