Beginning Sunday evening, Israelis will dedicate a solemn day to remembering those who’ve lost their lives since the country was reborn in 1948; Two sirens will sound throughout the country – one at 8:00 PM on Sunday evening and the other on Monday at 11:00 AM.

John 15:13
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Sunday evening will mark the beginning of Israel’s Memorial Day, or Yom HaZikaron, observance. Yom HaZikaron is a day of remembrance for the Jewish State’s fallen soldiers, veterans, and victims of terrorism. Approximately 25,000 Israeli soldiers have died since the nation was reborn in 1948, with numerous others being injured. Well over 3,000 Israelis have been killed from acts of terror as well.

Most recently, over 600 IDF soldiers have been killed in Israel’s war in Gaza and at least a few thousand more have been injured. Not to mention this war began as a result of the October 7 massacre wherein Hamas militants breached the border with Israel and mutilated, raped, and slaughtered over 1,200 Israelis beginning in the early hours of the day. Needless to say, Memorial Day in Israel in 2024 will be met with a host of pain and sorrow as the people reflect on the loss(s) of their loved ones.

Historically, some of Israel’s major battles/wars include The War of Independence (1947-1949), The Sinai Campaign (Operation Kadesh – 1956), The Six-Day War (June 1967), The War of Attrition (1968-1970), The Yom Kippur War (1973), The Lebanon War: Operation Peace for Galilee (1982), The Gulf War (1991), The Second Lebanon War (2006), and The Israel-Hamas War (2023-present) in addition to several other military confrontations.

At 8:00 PM Israel Time on Sunday, a one-minute siren will initiate the beginning of Yom HaZikaron. At the sound of this siren, Israelis throughout the country will stop what they’re doing and honor those who’ve gone before them. Unlike several other countries around the world, most Israelis have spent some amount of time in the military. An additional siren will sound at 11:00 AM on Monday.

Fallen police officers, Mossad agents, and General Security Service members are also recognized on Yom HaZikaron. Following the second siren, several ceremonies will commence throughout the day. The Israeli flag will be lowered to half-mast and radio stations throughout the country will play recordings about the history of Israel’s wars. Some people will recite different prayers throughout the day as well.

One cannot emphasize enough the value given to each person serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). To provide you with a specific example, in most countries, the engine of a combat tank will be located at the back of the machine. That way, if a tank is targeted in the front and the soldiers die, there is the possibility of salvaging the engine to reuse it. This is not the case in Israel, as its tanks are equipped with engines in the front. This means that if an attack were to occur and the tank was struck, the engine might be destroyed, but the soldier(s) might be spared. The emphasis is on the soldier, not the vehicle.

There’s no question as to the significance of this day, for, without the commitment of the Jewish men and women to defend their God-given land throughout history, there would be no Jewish State. This is why Memorial Day comes immediately before Independence Day, or Yom HaAtzma’ut, in Israel – to honor the fallen prior to celebrating freedom.

Today, Israel’s military is ranked among the top 20 most powerful militaries in the world.

Yom HaZikaron will conclude with a torch-lighting ceremony at Mt. Herzl where the burial site of Theodore Herzl is located. Furthermore, it marks the beginning of Independence Day, Yom HaAtzmaut – a joyous celebration throughout the country. Though, undoubtedly, there will an intense mix of emotions given the current political and wartime turmoil in the land.