The State of Israel will commemorate the 23, 447 IDF soldiers and civilian terror victims who were killed from 1860 to today, with Memorial Day events beginning on Tuesday afternoon and lasting until Wednesday evening when a torch-lighting ceremony on Mount Herzl launches the Independence Day festivities.
Sixty-eight casualties were added to the count since last year’s Memorial Day, and another 59 soldiers succumbed to their wounds incurred during their IDF service. The official number of bereaved families in Israel in 2016 is 16, 307, of which there are 9, 442 bereaved parents, 4, 917 widows, and 1, 948 orphans.
Memorial Day events begin on 4:30pm Tuesday with a ceremony at Yad LaBanim in Jerusalem attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Ministry Director-General Dan Harel, and other high ranking officials. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat will deliver remarks at the ceremony.
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A candle lighting ceremony will then be held at the Western Wall Plaza beginning at 7:30pm, with President Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch, and representatives of bereaved families in attendance. The ceremony will begin with a lowering of the flag to half staff. At 8pm, a minute-long siren will be heard throughout the country to honor the fallen.
The last major event of the day Tuesday will be “Songs in Their Memory” event at the Knesset plaza on 9:15pm, attended by hundreds of members of bereaved families. The event is a joint initiative of the Knesset, the Defense Ministry Directorate of Families and Commemoration, and the Terror Victims Directorate of the National Health Insurance. President Rivlin and Prime Minister Netanyahu will also attend the event that will include, instead of speeches, poems read by Knesset Speaker Edelstein, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Deputy IDF Chief Yair Golan, and Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh. Israel singers Shiri Maimon, Ninet Tayeb, Harel Skaat, Idan Haviv and Uziya Tzadok will also participate, along with military bands.
Meanwhile, an alternative memorial service will be held in the central Chen Hatzafon synagogue in Petah Tikva at 8pm, and include classes, lectures and discussions on current events. Lt.-Col. Shai Siman Tov, the commander of the Golani Brigade’s 12th Battalion who was critically wounded during Operation Protective Edge, will speak at the service. Also in attendance will be former Shin Bet chief MK Avi Dichter, Chief Military Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Rafi Peretz and others.
Memorial Day’s events on Wednesday will start with a two-minute siren in honor of the fallen at 11am, followed by a state memorial ceremony for Israel’s fallen soldiers on Mount Herzl. President Rivlin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and members of bereaved families will be in attendance.
At the same time, memorial services will be held at military cemeteries and plots throughout the country. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon will attend the ceremony at the Givat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.
A memorial ceremony for terror victims will be held on Mount Herzl at 1pm.