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Israel remembers fallen soldiers, terror victims on Memorial Day

(Xinhua)

08:06, April 25, 2012

JERUSALEM, April 24 (Xinhua) -- Israel on Tuesday honored the memory of soldiers fallen in wars as well as victims of terrorism, with ceremonies across the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joins the bereaved families to mourn his brother, who fell in a combat.

A minute-long siren marking the beginning of the Memorial Day events wailed across the country on Tuesday evening, followed by official state ceremonies held at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem and the Ammunition Hill.

After the siren, Netanyahu, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Israeli Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger and Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin spoke at the official ceremonies.

Netanyahu assured the mourning families that Memorial Day is a painful day for him too, since he lost a younger brother in the army, Yonathan, in 1979.

"As a son to a bereaved family, Memorial Day has special significance for me. This day isn't just a national memorial day, it is also a private memorial day for me and the members of my family, just as it is for me," he said.

A total of 22,867 soldiers were killed in action and training since Israel's founding in 1948, 19 of them in the past year. Israelis are also commemorating 2,443 civilians killed in terror- related events over the years.

The Memorial Day events will continue on Wednesday morning, and will conclude in the evening with a torch-lighting ceremony in Mt. Herzl, to be followed by the launching of Independence Day celebrations.

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