Commemoration of Yom HaZikaron, Israel's Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers and terrorism victims, will begin at 8:00 this evening (Sunday) with a country-wide siren and minute of silence. The opening ceremony will take place at the Western Wall, with the participation of Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger. A second siren will be sounded tomorrow morning, at 11 AM, once again bringing all activity to a standstill and marking the beginning of memorial ceremonies at the 43 military cemeteries around the country. A Knesset Member or government official will speak at each ceremony. A special ceremony will also be held in memory of Jews murdered by terrorists and anti-Semites around the world. Some 200 such Jews will be remembered at tomorrow's ceremony at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. The event is being organized by the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund, and the UJC of North America. A monument with the names of the victims will be unveiled.
The names of all Israel's fallen soldiers and terrorist victims will be broadcast on Israel's public television channel this evening and tomorrow, one after the other, for 4-5 seconds each. The somber day comes to an end tomorrow evening (Monday) with the onset of Israel's 59th Independence Day.
Both Remembrance Day and Independence Day are commemorated one day later this year than usual, by order of the Chief Rabbinate, in order to prevent the Sabbath desecration that would have resulted from having Remembrance Day begin on Saturday night.
18,784 soldiers and security personnel have fallen since the U.N. decision to establish a Jewish State on Nov. 29, 1947. In recent years, Yom HaZikaron has been expanded to include civilians killed by terror attacks as well.
The number of soldiers and security personnel who have fallen since Nov. 29, 1947, when the UN accepted the partition, thus mandating the creation of a Jewish State, is 20,526. The struggle to re-create a Jewish homeland beginning in the year 1860, when Jews began to move outside Jerusalem's Old City walls, claimed an additional close to 1,500 victims.
The War of Independence was Israel's costliest war, with more than 6,000 dead and 15,000 wounded. The war consisted of 39 separate operations, fought from the borders of Lebanon to the Sinai Peninsula and Eilat, and was fought for about a year, until 1949. Then followed seven years of relative quiet - during which there were "1,339 cases of armed clashes with Egyptian armed forces, 435 cases of incursion from Egyptian-controlled territory, and 172 cases of sabotage perpetrated by Egyptian military units and fedayeen in Israel," in which 101 Israelis were killed, as Israeli Ambassador to the UN Abba Eban explained to the Security Council on October 30, 1956. Eban gave these statistics the day after Israel began the Sinai Campaign - its military response to Egypt's violation of international agreements by sealing off the Israeli port of Eilat, effectively stopping Israel's sea trade with much of Africa and the Far East. A total of 231 Israeli soldiers died in the fighting. In March 1957, after receiving international guarantees that Israel's vital waterways would remain open, Israel withdrew from the Sinai and Gaza - yet the Egyptians still refused to open the Suez Canal to Israeli shipping.
The Six-Day War broke out on June 5, 1967. Despite the stunning victories, over 770 Israelis were killed.Then began the period of the War of Attrition, which claimed ,424 soldiers and more than 100 civilians. A ceasefire was declared on August 8, 1970.
Egypt and Syria attacked Israel on Yom Kippur, 1973. The IDF ultimately emerged victorious, but a total of 2,688 soldiers were killed.
In June 1982, in response to continued terrorist attacks from across the Lebanese border, as well as an assassination attempt upon Israel's Ambassador to Great Britain Shlomo Argov, Israel attacked the terrorists in Lebanon in what was known as Operation Peace for Galilee. Close to 460 soldiers were killed between June and December 1982, and another 760 in daily ambushes against Israeli forces over the next two and a half years.
Between December 1987, when the first Arab "intifada" broke out, and the signing of the Oslo Accords in late 1993, 90 Israelis were killed.
Between the Oslo signing and the beginning of what became known as the Oslo War (seven years), 251 Israelis were killed.
Another 1,287 have been felled by PA terrorists and gunmen since September 2000.
In the year 2000, then-Prime Minister Barak wrote to the bereaved families, "We visit today the rows of graves that extend to infinity... we still refuse to believe and we refuse to be consoled. Because there is no consolation. Heavy, maybe too heavy, is the price we bear for our independence and building the 52 years of the State of Israel."