JERUSALEM, April 22 (UPI) -- Israel marked its annual Memorial Day Wednesday, honoring those killed defending Israel and Judaism, with a two-minute siren sound across the country.
The sirens' wail could be heard at 11 A.M., and all activity briefly stopped.
The day honors the nearly 23,000 Israel Defense Force military personnel who have died in service during wars with neighboring Arab countries, as well as civilians killed by attacks and in ongoing conflicts with Israel's Palestinian population.
A memorial service was held at Israel's national ceremony at Mt. Hertzl in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whose older brother died in combat in 1976, told the audience, "I know what you go through on this day and every day. I'm one of you. I know the agony of parents who have lost a son or daughter, the tragedy of young children who will never know their father, the cutting down of life felt by brothers and sisters, the longing of a young widow for a love who will never return."
Ceremonies were conducted at other military cemeteries, as well as on Tuesday at Yad Lebanim memorial and the Western Wall, both in Jerusalem.
President Shimon Peres spoke Tuesday, saying, "We can collect words from morning to night...it has not yet been found and will not be found, a word capable of healing sorrow."
"The State of Israel, for whom your children paid the highest and most painful price, for its establishment, existence and security. But there is still a threat to its peace...and if need be, we will know how to protect it again."
Officials took the unusual step of including the name of a Palestinian youth, killed by Israelis, on a plaque reserved for Israeli victims of terrorism. The Victims Act of Terror monument at Mt. Hertzl now includes the name of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, whose killing in 2014 initiated rioting by Palestinians in East Jerusalem.