April 28 (UPI) -- Israelis observed various Memorial Day ceremonies remotely on Tuesday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a state ceremony from his office due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The official ceremony was staged without the usual audience at the Har Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, where nearly 25,000 service members are buried. Lt. Aviv Kochavi, Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, and Mossad chief Yossi Cohen physically attended.
Before noon, millions of Israelis stood in silence for two minutes to honor the dead.
"[Israel's fallen soldiers] would want us to continue to live in security and health," Netanyahu wrote in an op-ed in Israel Hayom Tuesday. "The central consideration that has guided us this year is to preserve life and to preserve health, to not take risks -- with lives or health -- for no reason.
"Therefore, this year we have prevented gatherings in military cemeteries, and we will instead place honor guards of IDF soldiers there,"
A second Memorial Day service honored victims of terrorism.
Israel's Memorial Day, Yom Hazikaron in Hebrew, started Monday night with a symbolic air raid siren. The health ministry, though, had banned families from attending due to the health crisis. Instead, officials encouraged them to visit any of Israel's 53 military cemeteries before the holiday to limit possible exposure to the coronavirus.
"This special day has an additional important goal for us, to strengthen our obligation," said Nadav Argaman, chief of the Israel counter-terrorism security force Shin Bet. "Our obligation to continue in the way of those who sacrificed their lives to protect our home."