The nation bowed its head Sunday evening for Remembrance Day , mourning the 22,867 servicemen and - women who fell defending the land of Israel since 1860 – the year the first Jews left Jerusalem’s Old City walls to settle other parts of the country.
Remembrance Day officially began at 8 p.m. Sunday when a one-minute siren sounded across the country. President Shimon Peres opened the state ceremony at the Western Wall, which was attended by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and representatives of bereaved families.
President Shimon Peres warned Israel's neighbors not to repeat their past mistakes:
"I am here to tell you today that Israel is as strong as ever. We were the first in the world to have an "Iron Dome" that can stop missiles. We have the ability to fly to the heights of space, to dive to the depths of the ocean, and to create a viewing eye not only on our borders but also onto new vistas".
"Wars broke out because the attackers were not aware of Israel's hidden strength. Today, as well, I suggest to those that are looking for war - do not make the same mistake again. Do not overlook our hidden abilities".
"Israel's strength lies in her justness. We are prepared to physically defend our land, and morally to defend our heritage".
"The Israeli spirit has a talent to overcome any situation and to prepare for tomorrow".
"We didn't seek war. It was imposed upon us. But when we were attacked, we didn't have the possibility to lose, even one war. And when we won, we returned to seek peace,'We were sober then and we remained prepared today. And in any situation we will not give up the chance of full peace, real peace. And if one opportunity fails, we will look for a new one,"