Israel observes annual memorial day for soldiers, civilians killed in conflicts (ISRAEL INSIDER) By israelinsider staff and partners 05/10/05)
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At nightfall, Israel on Tuesday began observing its annual memorial
day for soldiers and civilians killed in more than a century of
conflict between Jews and Arabs.
As sirens sounded throughout the country for one minute of silence,
traffic came to a halt and citizens stood at attention, paying
homage to the 21,954 people killed in Israel´s wars since 1860, when
Jews began settling what is now Israel by building neighborhoods
outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
In the last year, 169 soldiers and 63 civilians were killed,
according to Israel´s Foreign Ministry, many in attacks by
Palestinian militants, though the figures also include soldiers who
die in training accidents.
President Moshe Katsav and military commander Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon
led official observances at the Western Wall plaza, a Jewish holy
site in Jerusalem´s Old City, recalling Israel´s military losses
over more than five generations.
Katsav stressed the need for national unity in his address. "On this
day there are no arguments between us. We remember that we are one
nation with one past and one goal, despite different views," he
The planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip this summer has deeply
divided the country. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon recently warned
that there was an atmosphere of civil war in the country.
Earlier, Sharon, a former general and veteran of several of Israel´s
wars, addressed the parents of fallen soldiers.
"Your pain is our pain, your suffering is our suffering. Because the
fallen, those dear sons, are ours," he said. "Israel´s glory, 57
years of unprecedented achievement, is owed to them," he said.
On Wednesday morning, air raid sirens are to sound again for two
minutes, marking the beginning of memorial ceremonies at military
cemeteries around the country.
At sundown Wednesday, a ceremony at the Mt. Herzl cemetery in
Jerusalem marks the sudden transition from Memorial Day to
Independence Day, Israel´s 57th birthday. The AP contributed to this
report. (© 2001-2005 Koret Communications Ltd. 05/10/05)
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