Israelis honor war dead with sirens and ceremonies on annual Memorial Day

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JERUSALEM — Israel has begun its annual Memorial Day commemoration for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Sirens wailed Tuesday night across Israel, bringing the country to a standstill. Israelis stopped in their tracks at 8 p.m. and stood silently for a minute to honor and remember the dead. The main memorial ceremony took place at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Israel says 23,320 security personnel have been killed since 1860, when Jews began moving back to the area. Of those, 116 died in the past year, including 67 soldiers killed during a 50-day war in Gaza.

It's one of the most somber dates on the Israeli calendar. Places of entertainment shut down. Radio and TV stations air documentaries about wars.

The sad atmosphere ends sharply at sundown Wednesday when independence day celebrations begin.

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