Israelis mark Memorial Day with fresh round of victims from weekend attacks

Israeli soldiers stand at attention by the Israeli flag at half mast during a Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, in Jerusalem's Old City, April 30, 2017, as Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers. (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

As the sirens sound in Israel on the eve and morning of Memorial Day, Israelis will remember the nation’s fallen including, poignantly, the four civilians who lost their lives this week during rocket attacks against the country.

Hamas pummeled Israel with nearly 700 rockets in less than a 48-hour period this weekend killing:

Moshe Agadi, 58

Zaid al-Hamamdeh, 44

Moshe Feder, 64

Pinchas Menachem Prezuazman, 21

Among these victims are two secular Jews, an Orthodox Jew and a Bedouin Israeli Arab. All were fathers.

In a somber moment, Israelis bow their heads in silence for one minute to pay tribute to fallen soldiers and terror victims on the eve of Yom HaZicharon. Sirens blare at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night for one full minute signaling the onset of the day and then again on Wednesday morning. The nation comes to a temporary halt and even drivers will stop their cars and stand outside their vehicles in prayer during the duration of the siren.

Most establishments will be closed on Wednesday morning and Israeli television goes off the air during for 24 hours except to air documentaries about Israel’s wars.

This year Israel mourns 23,741 soldiers who died since 1948 defending the country, 95 of whom were added this year. The number of terror victims is 3,150. Sixteen names were added to that list this year.

Israeli officials made condolence calls to the families of the four victims this week. President Reuven Rivlin visited three of the four families including the Arab family who lost a son and father earlier this week in the rocket barrage.

“You don’t know what it means to me that you came here,” Zaid Al-Hamamdeh’s son reportedly told the president. Rivlin replied, “Why wouldn’t I come? Aren’t you an Israeli citizen?”

Al-Hamamdeh was a truck driver. He was killed when a Hamas rocket slammed into the factory where he worked in the southern Israel coastal city of Ashkelon.

Rivlin said he does “everything I can to visit all Israelis who are in such terrible grief from terrorist attacks.”

“We, the tribes of Israel, are together in good times and bad, in hope and in difficulty, regardless of which tribe we are from,” he said. “Ultra-Orthodox, secular, religious and traditional, Jews and Arabs – terror strikes us all without discrimination and without mercy and we will never surrender to it.”

At a ceremony on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to bring home the bodies of troops who went missing in battle.

“We are not eager for battle but we know our willingness to sacrifice is the guarantor of our fate,” Netanyahu said. “We will always remember — the fate of our country is hanging in the balance. And without our loved ones who perished, the country would have perished.”

Netanyahu lost his brother Yoni during the 1976 Entebbe Operation to free Israeli hostages in Uganda.