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Israeli PM Netanyahu, cabinet members lead Memorial Day events amid protests

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery that the fight against Hamas would continue until Israel was victorious and was able to "bring our hostages home." Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI
1 of 7 | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery that the fight against Hamas would continue until Israel was victorious and was able to "bring our hostages home." Photo by Debbie Hill/ UPI | License Photo

May 13 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a remembrance day speech Monday commemorating those killed in Israel's wars and in terror attacks to vow to continue the fight against Hamas, portraying it as an existential fight between opposing values.

The "eternal" values of Israel represented by those who died defending the country on Oct. 7 justified pursuing the battle with Hamas to its conclusion, Netanyahu said at the Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism ceremony at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery.

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"At the beginning of the current war, which began with the terrible massacre, we heard of countless acts of sacrifice, stories of heroism and displays of mutual commitment that will be remembered for generations," he said in an address which he was heckled by some relatives of hostages and the deceased and boycotted by others.

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"Our loved ones who fell in battle represent our eternal values. Love of man and nation, love of country, willingness to sacrifice and belief in the righteousness of the path. This war is about exactly that. It's either us -- Israel, or them -- the monsters of Hamas.

"It's either existence, liberty, security and prosperity, or torture, massacre, rape and slavery. We are determined to win in this struggle. We will achieve the goals of victory, first and foremost, bringing all of our hostages home," he said.

Some family members were heard shouting "You took my children," while footage circulating online showed a number of attendees walking out of event as Netanyahu took to the lectern.

Memorial Day events elsewhere also saw protests with demonstrators holding up signs saying "Their blood is on your hands" as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant spoke at Tel Aviv's Kiryat Shaul Military Cemetery.

Ahead of a speech by Security Minister Ben Gvir, families at an event at Ashdod military cemetery traded insults between those calling Gvir's hardline, military response a "criminal" ideology by people who had never served and supporters of the right-wing ruling coalition.

Peace activists staged alternative events, notably the annual broadcast of the Joint Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day Ceremony which went ahead Sunday night, with parallel events held in London, New York and Los Angeles.

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The organizers, Combatants for Peace and the Parents Circle Families Forum preempted anticipated protests of the event, which commemorates Palestinian losses as well as those of Israelis, by taping the ceremony in advance.

The website hosting the ceremony was hacked minutes before it was due to go to air sabotaging the YouTube showing although viewers were able to see it on Facebook, according to the organizers.

The joint Memorial Day has come in for strong criticism and at least one legal challenge in Israel in past years.

Yuval Rahamim co-director of the Parents Circle Families Forum, an Israeli-Palestinian support group for families who have lost loved ones in the conflict, acknowledged the event would be seen as "provocative" by many Israelis, but argued the spiral of violence had to end.

"Many people have woken up to the reality that this conflict cannot go on. People are willing to stand up."

Speaking at a screening of the event at a Jewish community center in London, Magen Inon, whose mother and father were killed on Oct. 7, said that he did not want what had happened to his family to be used to justify more armed conflict.

"We felt as if our personal pain is being hijacked by the national cause," said Inon who now campaigns for peace.

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Israelis observe Memorial Day in Jerusalem

Mossad intelligence agency chief David Barnea lays a wreath during a ceremony marking Memorial Day for fallen soldiers of Israel's wars and victims of attacks at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl military cemetery on May 13, 2024. Pool photo by Gil Cohen-Magen/UPI | License Photo

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