In Memorial Day address, Netanyahu calls for ‘strength and unity’ as nation mourns those who fell.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Wednesday for national strength and unity in the face of the existential threats facing the Jewish State.
Speaking at the annual Yom Hazikaron [Remembrance Day] state ceremony held at the military ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said he pledged to act so that “again, for its part, [Israel] will not fall.”
As memorial services were held across Israel to honor the war dead and those killed by terrorism, Netanyahu spoke about his own feelings when he learned as a young man that his brother Yonatan had been killed in the 1976 IDF commando raid to free Israeli and Jewish hostages whose airplane had been hijacked by Palestinian terrorists to the Ugandan capital of Entebbe.
“I felt like I had lost an organ from my body – an arm, a leg, a heart. The shock was so great that I completely lost my sense of taste. I lost the meaning of life,” Netanyahu said.
“Thanks to the fallen heroes of the nation who are always with us, we mark 73 years of renewed and wonderful work, 73 years of sorrow, 73 years of resurrection,” Netanyahu said as Israel prepares to mark its 73rd Independence Day on Thursday. “Their memory will be with us forever.”
“We must hold on to our country with all our strength and unity,” Netanyahu told the assembled dignitaries and families of those who fell.
“We must not remain indifferent to the threats of extermination against us, we must hold on to our country so that we do not become a passing episode,” he said, in reference to repeated statements by Iranian leaders that their goal is the destruction of the State of Israel.
At 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, air-raid sirens sounded across the country and Israelis stopped in their tracks for two minutes. Traffic came to a halt on highways as drivers and passengers stood beside their vehicles and people stood in the streets.
Ceremonies were held in most towns and cities across the country and at the 52 military cemeteries and memorial sites, commemorating the almost 24,000 Israelis who fell in defense of the country, including over 4,000 who perished in terrorist attacks.
Due to corona restrictions, cemeteries across the country are open to bereaved families only. The Ministry of Defense asked the public to “respect the bereaved families and allow them to reach the cemeteries and mingle with the memory of their loved ones while maintaining their health.”
Netanyahu tweeted a picture of himself in the 1970s as a teenager together with his brother Yoni who had recently enlisted in the IDF.
“My late brother Yoni, a hero of Israel, was killed in an operation to free the hostages in Entebbe. Yoni lives inside me every day. I never stop missing him.”