1.5 million people are expected to visit military ceremonies throughout the country Wednesday as the country pays its respects to 23,646 members of the security forces who were killed in the line of duty and 3,134 victims of terrorism.
At 11 am a two-minute siren sounded throughout the country, followed by the formal state memorial ceremony at Mount Herzl attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, Knesset Speaker Yoel (Yuli) Edelstein, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and representatives of bereaved families.
Ahead of the siren, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky lit a memorial torch at an Agency memorial service to fallen IDF soldiers, as well as those who died in service of the Jewish Agency, Jewish victims of terror and anti semitism around the world as, and for Holocaust victims who were the last members of their family lineage.
Sharansky, who gained notoriety during the 1970s and 80s during a nine-year imprisonment for demanding an exit visa from the Soviet Union in order to immigrate to Israel and later became active in Israeli politics, spoke about the special role immigrants played in the establishment of the state of Israel.
“About two thirds of those who fought in the war of Independence were new Olim,” said Sharansky, adding that “we are a family, we will remember, we will continue to grant Aliyah permits, we will continue the gathering of Israel.
“God willing, we will continue to build and strengthen the state of Israel,” he said.