Israeli leaders remember casualties of war

By Jennifer Lipman, May 9, 2011
Yoni Netanyahu, who died in the Entebbe mission

Yoni Netanyahu, who died in the Entebbe mission

Shimon Peres has pledged that Israel would continue to seek opportunities for peace at a ceremony marking Israel's annual day of remembrance for its war dead and victims of terrorism.

The Israeli president was in Jerusalem for the start of Yom Hazikaron. As was customary, a siren was sounded to mark the day, prompting a moment of silence around the country.

Speaking to bereaved families at the national commemoration at the Western Wall, Mr Peres paid tribute to the more than 25,000 people who died fighting for Israel or who were killed in terrorist attacks since independence 63 years ago.

He said: "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."

Mr Peres said that Israel would not give up "the chance of full peace, real peace". He said: "If one opportunity fails, we will look for a new one."

Nearby at a service at Jerusalem's Ammunition Hill, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recalled the death of his paratrooper brother Yoni during the 1976 attempt to free Israeli hostages at Entebbe.

Mr Netanyahu, who visited his brother's grave at Jerusalem's military cemetery on Mount Herzl after the ceremony, said that he was "well acquainted with the pain, the sense of loss and helplessness [and] the grief over missed opportunities," that bereaved families felt.

Last updated: 11:27am, May 9 2011