Enacted into law in 1963, Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for Fallen Soldiers, is aimed at unifying the citizens of Israel with the memory of the state’s fallen soldiers, whose sacrifice enabled Israel’s existence.
Each year on the 4th of the Hebrew month of Iyar or in proximity to that date, Israel observes Yom Hazikaron – exactly a day before Independence Day.
Yom Hazikaron also commemorates the deceased members of the Israeli Police, the General Security Service, the Mossad, and, in recent years, victims of terror.
Memorial Day begins at sundown and ends at sundown the following day. It is launched at 8 p.m. with a one-minute siren that is heard across the country, followed by a national ceremony held at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, attended by the President and the Chief of Staff. Other gatherings and services are held in cities and communities throughout Israel.
The following day, a two-minute siren is sounded at 11 a.m., followed by national memorial services held in all military cemeteries. The central service is held at the military cemetery on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.
A national service is held at 1 p.m. in memory of victims of terror at the central memorial at Mt. Herzl, Jerusalem.
The torch-lighting ceremony at Mt. Herzl is the closing event of Memorial Day as well as the opening ceremony for Independence Day.
This year, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin opened the official ceremony in Jerusalem, vowing not to forget the soldiers who are missing in action.
Since 1860, which was the beginning of the modern Zionist movement, 23,544 men and women have fallen defending Israel and the pre-state Jewish communities, as well as 3,117 victims of terror.
Over the past year, 97 IDF soldiers have died, including 37 disabled IDF veterans.
(With files from knesset.gov.il)