Israel's Memorial Day starts with moment of silence, Western Wall ceremony
'Our sons and daughters, who fell in defense of our state, fought together and fell together'
Israel's Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron) officially began at 8 pm Tuesday night with the sound of the siren for one minute followed by a ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City.
The national holiday honors fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism a day before celebrating Independence Day, which this year is the Jewish state's 74th.
President Isaac Herzog in a speech at the Western Wall Plaza echoed remarks made earlier in the day by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, with both leaders calling for unity.
"Our sons and daughters, who fell in defense of our state, fought together and fell together," Herzog said.
"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. They fell as Israelis, defending Israel."
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi also spoke at the Western Wall event.
At 11 am Wednesday morning, a second two-minute siren will sound across the country, followed by memorial services at Israel's 52 military cemeteries.
The number of fallen soldiers since 1860 defending the pre-state Yishuv and Israel stands at 24,068.
According to the National Insurance Institute, some 3,199 civilians were killed in hostilities since the establishment of the state.