Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians unite for emotional Memorial Day ceremony

Grieving families called for a ‘different future’ for everybody in the region


The online ceremonies were watched by tens of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians, as well as others across the globe (Photos: Combatants for Peace)

Bereaved Israelis and Palestinians have come together to hold a joint Memorial Day ceremony and call for a “different future” for those in the region. 

The event, organised by peace groups Combatants for Peace – an Israeli-Palestinian NGO – and the Parents Circle Families Forum – an Israeli-Palestinian organisation comprising more than 600 families – was a chance recognise the loss faced by people from both sides of the conflict during the Gaza war.

The event was the first of its kind to be held since the October 7 Hamas terror attack, which killed 1,200 people and at least 240 people taken hostage.

The 19th annual joint Memorial Day ceremony was broadcast from Jerusalem on Sunday night, with similar events taking place in London, New York and Los Angeles.

Israelis and Palestinians came together to share speeches, songs, and a poem about peace.

In one video shared, children in Israel could be seen discussing the impact of the war, with one participant sharing their wish “for everyone who died to come back to life.”

The ceremony was held in Arabic and Hebrew, and featured speeches from Yonatan Zeigen, son of the Canadian-Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, who was killed at her home at Kibbutz Be'eri, in southern Israel.

Silver, who was 74, was originally thought to have been abducted from her home but it was later revealed she was killed in the initial attacks.

Zeigen said: “Every society must look bereavement in the eye, internalise the price they are paying and see the bereavement of the other. That pain is the same.”

He spoke alongside Michal Halev, whose son Laor was killed at the Nova music festival.

She said: “Nothing in my life is natural any more. There is nothing natural about losing a child.

“I find one purpose for which to live, which is to seek out what I can do to help our wounded humanity heal, so there will be no more mothers here who are crushed by killing, by violence and war. Stop the killing, stop the revenge.

“I allow myself to speak on behalf of all mothers who want their children to have a future. Laor no longer has such a future.”

The Parents Circle Families Forum, which was established in 1995, pre-recorded the ceremony in order to avoid disruption by protesters.

Ahmed Al Helou, who lost 60 members of his family in Gaza, also spoke at the event:

“They don't spare anyone in this war, not even the birds,” Al Helou said.

“Despite the destruction and hideous war crimes of the Israeli army in Gaza, we must stand strong against terrorism, war and violence against innocents.

“We must build a safe future for our children without fearing tomorrow.”

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