Israel remembers its fallen, celebrates their victory
Monday, April 15, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
As we do every year, Israelis on Monday made the incredible transition from deep mourning to bounding joy as we first marked the Memorial Day for our fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism before moving immediately into Independence Day.
Nationwide sirens on Sunday evening and Monday morning brought Israel to a standstill to remember 23,085 IDF soldiers who have fallen in the line of duty. Also remembered were the 2,493 Israelis who have been killed in acts of anti-Israel terrorism. Both sirens were followed by national and private Memorial Day ceremonies at cemeteries and war memorials across the country.
Israel’s Ministry of Defense reports that there are 17,553 bereaved families of deceased security personnel in Israel, along with 2,324 orphans and 4,964 widows of the defense establishment.
Nearly every Israeli has lost a family member or friend to war or terrorism, meaning that for nearly every Israeli, Memorial Day is a very solemn time.
One interesting aspect of Israel’s Memorial Day that is today lacking even in many Christian nations is the liberal referencing of the Bible by the nation’s leaders. During the main national Memorial Day ceremony at the Western Wall on Sunday evening, Israeli President Shimon Peres, IDF chief Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel’s chief rabbis and even the army emcee quoted repeatedly from the Bible and recited numerous prayers thanking God for His provision and blessing.
At sunset on Monday (remember that in Jewish tradition, days start at sunset), our mourning will turn to sudden joy as we burst into celebration over what the sacrifices of our loved ones has purchased - a safe and secure Jewish homeland after millennia of exile and persecution.
Tuesday’s Independence Day events will include outdoor concerts at several venues, air and sea displays by Israel’s military, tours of Israeli army bases, a ceremony for outstanding soldiers in Jerusalem, and the annual National Bible Quiz.
The Taste of Victory
Monday, April 15, 2013 | Aviel Schneider
During the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli forces captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City and Temple Mount, as well as the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria (the so-called “West Bank”). While the Arabs described it as a Zionist “conquest,” Israel’s original military strategy did not include any plans to take control of these territories.
Despite the increase in terrorist activity and the War of Attrition, Israelis were buoyed by the stunning 1967 victory and felt safer than they ever had since the creation of the state in 1948. The Israeli military stood the test and the country prospered economically against all the odds, attesting to the grace and faithfulness of God.
Israel Today is in the midst of presenting a fascinating series on the birth of the nation in fulfillment with God’s promises to the Jewish people.
Lone immigrants celebrate joining the Israeli army
Monday, April 15, 2013 | Yossi Aloni
Eighty young Jews who immigrated to Israel alone from around the world to join the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were thrown a recruitment party in Jerusalem last week by the US-based organizations Nefesh B’Nefesh and Friends of the IDF (FIDF).
The immigrants, who will be classified as “lone soldiers,” came to Israel from Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Moldova, the Netherlands, Peru, Russia, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom , South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, Uruguay, USA and Uzbekistan.
In addition to enjoying the festive atmosphere, the new recruits were also given special financial grants provided to the IDF’s lone soldiers.
“Where I come from I had to hide my Jewish identity, but now I am proud to be a Jew and to defend my country. My recruitment [into the IDF] is a dream fulfilled,” said Aziz Hlicob, a 21-year-old immigrant from Turkmenistan.
Among the speakers at the event were Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver IDF representative and a representative of the “NBN”.
“Israel is in the midst of preparing for Memorial Day and Independence Day, the most Zionist days of the year, but there is nothing more exciting than celebrating the recruitment of these 80 young future soldiers,” said Nefesh B’Nefesh Deputy Chairman Erez Halfon. “These young people are the future of Israel. They came from all corners of the globe with a common goal of protecting and maintaining the State of Israel, the home of the Jewish people. We salute each and every one of them.”
There are currently about 2,700 lone soldiers serving in the IDF. These immigrants, many of them young men and women who made the move to Israel without their parents or families, are provided regular financial assistance, emotional support and social activities by organizations like Nefesh B’Nefesh and FIDF.