A two-minute siren sounded across Israel at 11 AM today, as the country stood in silent mourning for total 23,928 fallen IDF soldiers and civilian victims of terror. Immediately afterward, the Israel Air Force performed a special flyover with a missing member of the formation to honor the fallen.
Commemoration of Memorial Day 2021 began with another siren last night, followed by a state ceremony.
After noting that casualties were the lowest in the state’s history for the second consecutive year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged that, “In the explosive Middle East this could of course change in a blink of an eye, but for the public that sits here this does not mean much. Because, to those who were harmed – the families of the fallen – it has been the most horrifying year in their lives.”
Netanyahu further stressed that while the State of Israel does everything in its power to prevent needless wars which inevitably claim the lives of nation’s sons and daughters, it simultaneously maintains “perpetual preparedness” for conflict.
“Only if we are willing to defend our state with a spirit of fortitude and divine sacrifice – only then we can ensure, with God’s help, our existence and future,” he underscored.
As he does ahead of every Memorial Day, President Reuven Rivlin met with many bereaved families: “May our lives be worthy of their memories,” he told those gathered, telling them that “The whole Israeli people stands with you. On Yom HaZikaron (Hebrew for ‘Memorial Day’), for one day in the year, we stop the routine, the traffic and our breaths, and we bear with you just a bit of the unending pain.”
“But also for the rest of the year, we remember,” he continued, adding, “Building our people never ends, and remembrance continues. We remember our commitment to building a good present and a future, because that is the way we will honor their memories. We remember that aspiring to peace must be in our hearts every day, because there were those who lost their lives in the hope that we can live together in security and also in peace. Security for all the people of our country, peace with all our neighbors.”
During today’s remembrance ceremony, President Rivlin said, “For me, for my peers, the State of Israel is not obvious. Without love for the homeland, adherence to the mission, the pursuit of victory, fraternity, leadership by example and the purity of arms, we would not be here as free people.”
“In order to strengthen our security — we must be ready to fight for it. In order to build a new and prosperous society in the State of Israel, we must be on alert and vigilant for years to come, fight for our freedom whenever it is forced on us, fight and win,” he said.
This morning the names of 112 fallen soldiers this past year were read aloud at the national Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, including 69 former troops who died as a result of injuries sustained during their military service.
“We are committed to doing everything so that there will be no more wars, to act responsibly and to treat our soldiers’ lives with reverence,” said Alternate Premier and Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the ceremony, adding that, “The day when there will be no wars is unfortunately far away, and we will continue to carry out our mission, which is to defend the homeland and live on our sword as well,”
IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier General Eyal Karim recited a special prayer for those who fell in service of the State of Israel.
“Our sacred brothers and sisters, heroes of Israel, mighty of spirit and deed who deposited your souls for the sanctity of God, the nation and land, during the wars of Israel, in operations of defense, retaliation and security, when you fulfilled your jobs during your service. All of the underground fighters, divisions of troops, all of the fallen in our national campaigns and those of the intelligence community, security agencies, police and prison personnel, who lost their souls to death for the resurrection of Israel and the life of the state. May the living Lord our God remember you in goodness and mercy, and may He avenge your pure blood as is written (Deuteronomy 32:43) “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”
He continued, “The gates of Heaven will always remain open for you in paths and tabernacles of assurance. May you sit in the presence of the angels of Heaven and may your souls be engraved in the Book of Eternal Life for the Lord you God, because the war of the Lord you have fought. May we see eye to eye in the redemption of Zion and in the fulfillment of the prophecy of resurrection, which was prophesied by the seer of Israel, the Prophet Ezekiel son of Buzi the priest regarding the Latter Days, as is written (Ezekiel 37:12-14) ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. 14 I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it, says the Lord.’”
During an address at an official ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi vowed, “Out of a commitment to the current generation of soldiers and their families, everything is done to send them solely on worthwhile missions.”
“We will improve the IDF’s capabilities, first of all, to carry out the missions successfully, but no less important — to keep and protect our soldiers. Tens of thousands of soldiers and commanders are currently carrying out an infinite number of missions and will eventually return home thanks to their professionalism and the care of their commanders,” said the IDF chief, saying that “This concern also includes treating the wounded and a supreme effort to bring back prisoners and missing persons to their families and their country.”
Observance of Memorial Day concludes at sundown tonight when the country transitions from sadness to joy with the onset of Israel’s 73rd Independence Day.