Israel’s prime minister said he “carries the burden of grief”, as the country remembered its 23,447 fallen soldiers and victims of terror.
A two-minute siren wailed across Israel at 11am on Wednesday to mark the start of memorial ceremonies at military cemeteries for Yom Hazikaron (Day of Remembrance).
The day’s events will conclude with a candle-lighting ceremony at Mount Herzl, after which Israelis kick off their 68th Independence Day celebrations.
Remembering the IDF soldiers and civilian victims of terror, Benjamin Netanyahu, who lost his brother Yoni in combat, said during a Jerusalem ceremony: “I, like you, carry the burden of grief, as we fall to the abyss of sorrow, agonize over the pain of loss.
“These feelings won’t let go after you receive the news. When I received the news from my brother, and later delivered it to my parents, my whole world collapsed. The same happened to you.”
The memorial, held at the Yad Labanim, a centre that works to commemorate Israel’s fallen, is one of many across the country.
The day began with a one-minute siren and rendition of Hatikvah at the Western wall.
“For over 68 years we have been fighting the same war, the war for our independence,” Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said during memorial services at the Western Wall on Tuesday.
“It is a painful battle that all the time adds fresh scars to the body and spirit of this ancient and robust people.”
Netanyahu said: “We will not give up on the hopes of reconciliation with our enemies, but first we will reconcile among ourselves, and there is no deeper expression of our shared fate than when we remember, with love, and salute our heroic sons and daughters who fell so that we could live in our country.”