Israel will not agree to live under constant threats like those emerging from the ongoing upheaval in the Middle East, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz declared last night during the official state Remembrance Day ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. “After the fog of the revolutions began to settle, we began to see a different Middle East presenting new challenges,” Gantz said. “In this new, dubious reality, we witness attempts by our enemies, both far and near, to harm everything we’ve built.”
Gantz spoke just minutes after sirens sounded throughout the country at 8 pm and Israelis bowed their heads to mourn the 22,993 soldiers who have fallen in defence of Israel since 1860. In the past year, 126 soldiers and security personnel died in service of the state. On Wednesday, the main memorial will take place at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl Military Cemetery.
President Shimon Peres, who spoke just before Gantz, comforted bereaved families and said that the country’s amazing achievements were the results of their personal sacrifices. ‘Your sons and daughters will not return to you… Their bravery has left us alive, but their deaths have left us broken,’ he said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed more than 200 soldiers and bereaved families gathered for the Yad Lebanim Memorial for the Fallen in Israel’s Wars. ‘For bereaved families, time stops when you get the terrible news… it cuts your life in two: what was before, and what will never be again,’ Netanyahu said. ‘When you hear the siren tonight, we will turn into one family, and the citizens of Israel will be united in our remembrance.’ Today Netanyahu will speak at both the official ceremony for the fallen, and the state ceremony for the victims of terrorism in Israel and abroad.