JERUSALEM, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Israel came to a standstill on Tuesday evening, marking its annual Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims.
The official memorial day pays tribute to soldiers killed during their military service and wars, as well as the civilian victims of attacks.
Unlike last year, when most ceremonies were held online and bereaved families were not allowed to visit the graves of their loved ones due to coronavirus restrictions, this year's ceremonies were held throughout the country.
The day began on Tuesday afternoon with a memorial service at the Yad Lebanim memorial for fallen soldiers in Jerusalem.
During the service, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the bereaved families and said, "The past year was the best year in Israel's history in terms of security. It means that the number of the fallen was the lowest."
He vowed to "put every effort" to bring back home missing soldiers.
In the evening, shops and businesses were shut down, with TV channels airing films about bereaved families and stories of fallen soldiers and radio stations playing melancholic tunes.
Sirens were activated at 8 p.m. local time (GMT 0500) for one minute of silence, followed by the opening of the main ceremony at the Western Wall in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem's Old City. The ceremony was attended by President Reuven Rivlin, Chief of Forces Aviv Kochavi, military and police officers, and bereaved families.
Multiple additional ceremonies and memorials will be held across the country in the upcoming 24 hours, from late Tuesday to Wednesday evening.
According to official figures, 23,928 soldiers, police officers, police wardens, Shin Bet security service workers, and Mossad agents have died on duty since 1860, the year in which Jews first established a new neighborhood in Jerusalem. Over the past year, 43 security forces perished and 69 soldiers, who were wounded earlier, succumbed to their wounds and died.
The commemoration of the Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers is marked a week after the Memorial Holocaust Remembrance Day, and precedes the celebrations of the Israeli Independence Day, which begins on Wednesday evening and continues throughout Thursday.