Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terror, began last night at sundown, as Israelis commemorated their fallen with a one minute siren at 8 pm and a ceremony at the Kotel.
Israel stood in silence for one minute on Tuesday night remembering the servicemembers who died protecting the state and the victims of terror ahead of the country’s 74th Independence Day.
In total, 24,068 IDF soldiers, police officers, prison wardens, Shin Bet security service and Mossad agents have been killed since 1860 defending the pre-state Yishuv and Israel. That number also includes members of the pre-state militias and the Jewish Brigade, who served in the British army during World War II.
According to the National Insurance Institute, some 3,199 civilians were killed in hostilities since the establishment of the State.
In the past year, 56 IDF soldiers and security personnel died serving the State, and 84 IDF veterans who were injured during attacks died from their injuries. Since the end of March, 15 Israelis were killed in terror attacks.
The main Remembrance Day ceremony was held at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem in the presence of President Isaac Herzog and Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi.
You can watch the entire ceremony here:
President Yitzchak Herzog spoke very movingly:
“Over the past year, past weeks, and indeed past few days, grief and pain have struck us time and again. Even today, our enemies rise up against us with hateful terror, and as always they find us ready and determined, with one hand holding a weapon and the other extended in dialogue and peace,” he says.
“It is precisely in these heart-breaking moments, escorting our heroes and heroines on their final journeys, together with their beloved families, whose pain instantly becomes our own — precisely in these moments, we discover the sheer power of our wonderful and marvelous nation, a nation that knows how to overcome any obstacle,” Herzog says.
“Our hearts, punctured by pain, must not be allowed to make us forget the mighty journey that we have undertaken.”
“Our sons and daughters, who fell in defense of our state, fought together and fell together. They did not ask, nor did anyone ask them, who was right-wing and who was left-wing. Who was religious. Who was secular. Who was Jewish and who was not Jewish. Nor did grief pose these questions, to them or to you,” he says.
“They fell as Israelis, defending Israel. In cemeteries, arguments fall silent. Between the headstones, not a sound. A silence that demands that we fulfill, together, their single dying wish: the resurrection of Israel. The building of Israel. United, consolidated, responsible for each other. For we are all sisters and brothers,” he adds.
The President concluded by mentioning the missing Israelis still being held in Gaza:
President Isaac Herzog concludes his speech at the Western Wall Memorial Day ceremony with a reference to fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who are being held in Gaza along with Israeli civilians Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
“From here, I pray for the speedy return of our captured and the missing, and the task of bringing them back home remains on our shoulders,” he says.
Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also addressed the ceremony at the Kotel:
“The vast majority of families in the State of Israel waited for their children to descend the mountain, and received them with a hug at the end of their military service, but you waited in vain. Some of you are still waiting,” Kohavi says.
“They will not return. They will not return, but thanks to them, many have returned. Thanks to them, the lives of tens of thousands of citizens have been saved, and a large part of the security and achievements of the state is due to them.”
“Your pain is unbearable. The grief is oppressive, branching out in body and mind. It is present and does not rest for a moment, cruelly overcoming Sabbaths, holidays and birthdays.”
“The entire IDF and I at its head bow our heads out of sympathy, deep sorrow, and appreciation for your resilience,” Kohavi says.
Journalist Sivan Rahav Meir wrote an extremely moving post about the very first victim of Israel’s war of Independence – and it happened not in 1948 but way back in 1851 when the first pioneers were starting to establish a Jewish country in Israel. Even then, before Jews had begun to return to Israel in any significant numbers, before independence, before any “occupation”, already then the Arabs hated us and wanted us dead. Here is the story of the victim no. 1 as written by Sivan and freely translated by myself:
. ערב יום הזיכרון תשפ”ב, זהו מספר החללים שנפלו במערכות ישראל. אבל מאיפה בעצם מתחילה הספירה הזו? מי היה הראשון?ובכן, על לוח מספר 1 בהר הרצל כתוב שמו של הרב אברהם שלמה זלמן צורף שנרצח בשנת תרי”א (1851), לפני 171 שנה. הוא נחשב לקורבן הראשון בעידן שיבת ציון הנוכחית.הרב צורף נולד בליטא. הוא עלה לארץ עם אשתו ושלושת ילדיו בעליית תלמידיו של הגאון מוילנא, שרצו ליישב ולפתח את ארץ ישראל. תלמיד חכם, איש ציבור, שהתפרנס מעבודתו כצורף (מכאן שם המשפחה) והפך עד מהרה למנהיג בולט. הוא הקדיש את חייו לבניית ירושלים, גשמית ורוחנית, ולהבאת עוד ועוד עולים לישראל.ההצלחה הזו של הרב צורף הרגיזה חלק מערביי העיר, והם ניסו להתנקש בחייו. בדרכו להתפלל תפילת שחרית בבית כנסת בעיר העתיקה, התנפלו עליו כמה ערבים ודקרו אותו בחרב. על ערש דווי אמר “שמע ישראל”, והשביע את צאצאיו שלא יעזבו לעולם את הארץ. הקבר שלו בהר הזיתים חולל, ושוקם לאחרונה על ידי משפחתו.כדאי לשים לב לעובדה שהרב צורף נרצח בירושלים 9 שנים (!) לפני שהרצל נולד. כלומר, הסיפור שלנו יותר עמוק ועתיק ממה שנדמה לנו.לא נצליח להקיף 24,069 שמות. הרב צורף מירושלים הוא הראשון. ויאצ’סלב (דניאל) גולב, המאבטח מאריאל, הוא האחרון (והלוואי שהאחרון באמת).לזכרם.Translation:24,069. On the eve of Remembrance Day, this is the number of casualties in Israel’s battles. But where does this count actually begin? Who was the first?Well, on headstone number 1 on Mount Herzl is written the name of Rabbi Avraham Shlomo Zalman Zoref who was murdered in 1851, 171 years ago. He is considered the first victim in the current era of the Return to Zion.Rabbi Zoref was born in Lithuania. He immigrated to Israel with his wife and three children in the aliyah of the students of the Vilna Gaon, who wanted to settle and develop the Land of Israel. A talmid chacham (wise student), a public figure, who made a living from his work as a jeweler (hence the family name) and soon became a prominent leader. He devoted his life to building Jerusalem, physically and spiritually, and to bringing more and more immigrants to Israel.This success of Rabbi Zoref angered some of the city’s Arab residents and they tried to assassinate him. On his way to say morning prayer in a synagogue in the Old City, several Arabs attacked him and stabbed him with a sword. On his deathbed he said, “Shma Yisrael!” and made his offspring swear that they would never leave the land. His tomb on the Mount of Olives was desecrated, and recently rebuilt by his family.It is worth noting that Rabbi Zoref was murdered in Jerusalem 9 years (!) Before Herzl was born. That is, our story is deeper and older than we think.We are not be able to encompass 24,069 names. Rabbi Zoref from Jerusalem is the first. Vyacheslav (Daniel) Golev, the security guard from Ariel, is the last one (and I wish the latter really was).In their memory.
And from the first victim to the most recent victims. On this site I wrote about two terror attacks that took place in March 2022, in which 8 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian and Arab-Israeli terrorists. Sadly these were not the last attacks or the last victims. After that there were another 3 attacks in which another 7 Israelis were murdered, bringing the tally up to an unbelievable, outrageous and incomprehensible 15 innocent souls.
Here is the list of the victims of March and April 2022:
|April 29||Vyacheslav Golev (23)||Two Palestinian terrorists murdered Vyacheslav Golev, a security guard, at the entrance to Ariel.|
|April 7||Tomer Morad (28), Eytam Magini (27), Barak Lufan (35)||A shooting at a downtown Tel Aviv bar left three people dead and seven others were wounded and hospitalized.|
|March 29||Amir Khoury (32), Ya’akov Shalom (36), Avishai Yehezkel (29), Victor Sorokopot (38), Dimitri Mitrik (23)||Five people were killed during a series of drive-by shootings in Bnei Brak. The perpetrator was Diaa Hamarsheh who had been imprisoned in 2015 for charges of supporting terrorism as well as arms trafficking.|
|March 27||Yezen Falah and Shirel Abukarat, both 19||Two Border Police officers were killed by two terrorists believed to be supporters of the Islamic State.|
|March 22||Doris Yahbas (49), Laura Yitzhak 43), Rabbi Moshe Kravitzky and Menahem Yehezkel, (67)||Four people were killed and two more were injured during a stabbing and vehicle-ramming attack by an Islamic State supporter in Beersheba.|
The war for Israel’s Independence is still ongoing, let no one be fooled.
Let the deaths of our precious soldiers and victims of terrorism not be in vain. May their memories be for a blessing and may Hashem avenge their blood.
“In their death, they bequeathed us life”.
במותם ציוו לנו חיים