Memorial Day Preparations Underway in Israel


idfTuesday night and Wednesday 3 Iyar are marked as Memorial Day in Israel, when the nation remembers the fallen IDF soldiers, members of security agencies, and victims of terror attacks.

On Sunday 1 Rosh Chodesh Iyar IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkott placed a flag on a kever in Har Herzl Cemetery in the capital, marking the beginning of the process of placing a flag on the kever of each fallen soldier before Memorial Day.

In past years the IDF commander would place the flag on the kever of the last soldier to fall in action that year but a recent incident, in which the Jewishness of the last soldier who died was questionable, Eizenkott has decided to break the long-established custom and he placed the flag on a kever in the central area of the military cemetery.

On the eve of Memorial Day it is reported that 23,320 soldiers and security agency troops have been killed. 116 soldiers have been added to this list in the past year, of which 67 were killed during Operation Protective Edge, the counter-terrorism offensive against Hamas last summer. In addition, 35-disabled IDF veterans died of their injuries in the past year and are included in the number. The burial location of some of the fallen remains unknown to this day. 131 parents joined the list of bereaved parents in the past year, and 11 women lost their husbands, 24 children a parent.

Israel Police Chief Yochanan Danino on Sunday also placed a flag on a kever of a fallen officer from his department, which will also place flags on all its kevarim by the start of Memorial Day at 20:00 on Tuesday evening. Israel Police reports it has lost 1,431 members of the department over the years.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Mrs. Netanyahu visited the kever of his brother Yonatan, who fell during his command of Operation Entebbe in July 1976, freeing the hostages of a hijacked airplane. Not wishing to burden bereaved families with the security arrangements that accompany the PM’s presence, the prime minister and his wife visited Mt. Herzl on Motzei Shabbos amid the awareness bereaved families will begin visiting kevarim ahead of Memorial Day on Sunday.

On Tuesday night at 20:00 a siren will sound around the country marking the start of the day. On Wednesday morning at 11:00 a two-minute siren will sound around the country marking the official beginning of Memorial Day ceremonies.

Defense Ministry officials predict 1.5 million Israelis will visit one of 52 military cemeteries in Israel on Memorial Day. The ministry printed 4 million stickers that are distributed to visitors in military cemeteries on Memorial Day along with 450,000 bottles of water.

Yisrael Hayom reports that according to the law, bereaved grandparents, parents, spouse, children and siblings may miss work to attend Memorial Day ceremonies and they must be paid for the day by an employer.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. Aside from the lost lives that everyone mourns, what does this non-Jewish commemoration have to do with us? If you had something to tell us about how Rav Shteinman, Rav Chaim, the Rebbes or Gur or Vitznitz or others were planning to spend Yom Hazikaron (!), nu that would be interesting news. But, the fact that there is no such news is itself a psak halacha how we should “observe” this day.