“Precious in the sight of Hashem is the death of His saints.” Psalms 116:15 (The Israel Bible™)
Thousands of Israelis paused Sunday evening to mark the beginning of Memorial Day.
Traffic came to a halt as the traditional memorial siren sounded at 8 pm, restaurants and places of entertainment closed and flags around the country were lowered to half-mast as the country paid tribute to 23,544 men and women who were killed during the War of Independence, the Sinai Campaign, Six Day War, Yom Kippur War, Operation Peace for Galilee and a host of military incursions over the past decade into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Speaking at the Western Wall, President Reuven Rivlin called the holy site a “wall of tears and of hopes” and noted Israel’s return to the Old City 50 years ago, during the Six Day War.
“Fifty years after the liberation of Jerusalem, we remember: our liberty is sacred, both sacred and hard… it is our obligation to care, day and night, to do everything we can to ensure the safety of our citizens, the security of the State of Israel; and secondly, to do all we can to ensure the safety of our soldiers.
“We must be more than prepared. More than exceptional. We must constantly examine ourselves; always standing ready, always make sure that we are one step ahead. We must always be engaged, not just in preventing the next war, but in preventing all the coming wars – using every tool and every channel at our disposal,” Rivlin said.
In addition to the official government ceremony, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Zeev Elkin, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and a list of Jerusalem cultural personalities including singer Ron Avdan, Shiri Maimon, Yuval Dayan, Hanan Ben-Ari, Yishai Ribbo joined bereaved families met at Hebrew University at Mount Scopus, overlooking the Judean Desert, for a ceremony entitled “Remembering, Singing and Storytelling,”