JERUSALEM, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Israel came to a standstill on Sunday evening, marking its annual Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers and Terror Victims.
The Day of Remembrance pays tribute to the soldiers killed during their military service and wars, as well as the civilian victims of attacks.
The day kicked off on Sunday afternoon with an official ceremony at the Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem, attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
During the ceremony, a new 400-seat memorial hall was inaugurated there. The 18-meter-high monument contains over 23,000 bricks, each engraved with the name of a fallen soldier and the date of his death.
Various additional memorials will be held across the country in the upcoming 24 hours, from late Sunday to Monday evening.
Sirens were activated on Sunday at 8 p.m. local time (GMT 0600) for one minute of silence and will be on Monday at 11 a.m. (GMT 0900) for two minutes of silence.
Shops and businesses were shut down on Sunday evening, with TV channels airing films about bereaved families and the stories of fallen soldiers and radio stations playing melancholic tunes.
At the main ceremony, held in the evening at the West Wall in East Jerusalem's Old City, a territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War, Rivlin said Israel must strive for peace.
"We must do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our soldiers, not to engage in preventing the next war, but rather to prevent (all of the) future wars with all the tools and channels available to us," he said.
According to official figures, 23,544 soldiers and 4,128 civilians have been killed since 1860, the year in which Jews first established a new neighborhood in Jerusalem.
The commemoration of the Day of Remembrance of Fallen Soldiers is marked a week after the Memorial Holocaust Remembrance Day, and precedes the celebrations of the Israeli Independence Day, which begins on Monday evening and continues throughout Tuesday.