Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Xinhua News Agency


Israel marked the beginning of its annual day of Holocaust remembrance on Sunday evening with an official ceremony in Jerusalem.

From Sunday sunset to Monday, the country will officially commemorate the genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany during the World War II.

During the 24 hours, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and other places of entertainment are closed with memorial ceremonies held across the country. TV and radio stations are broadcasting solely Holocaust-related content, such as documentaries, interviews with survivors and melancholic songs.

The "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day," as it is officially called here, started with the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem.

The ceremony begun with the national flag lowered to half-mast. Then six Holocaust survivors, each representing 1 million of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust, lighted six torches.

The ceremony was attended by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who both spoke on the mass killings in Syria's six-year war.

Rivlin said the Jews, as people who suffered genocide, must not remain silent in the face of the atrocities that are happening in its northern neighbor.

"Man is beloved, every man, created in God's image. This is a sacred obligation that the Jewish people cannot and does not wish to evade. At all times. In every situation. So too, we cannot remain silent in the face of the horrors being committed far away from us, and certainly those happening just across the border," Rivlin said, referring to the civil war in Syria which is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people.

In his address, Netanyahu said the lives of at least 4 million Jews could have been saved if the allied powers had bombed Nazi death camps in 1942.

"In many cases, the world stands by and does not prevent instances of mass murder or genocides," he said, referring to the atrocities in Syria, Rwanda and Sudan.

Netanyahu warned against the dangers of standing by, and praised U.S. President Donald Trump's recent air strike on a Syrian army's air base in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed nearly 90 civilians.

Earlier at the government's weekly meeting, Netanyahu said the Jews has become "from the people that is a driven leaf, helpless, to a sovereign people with a defensive force that is among the strongest in the world."

On Monday morning, the Israeli government will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem where names of Holocaust victims will be recited and a two-minute siren will be heard throughout Israel.