Thousands Mourn for Wars Dead

Thousands of Israelis came here today from all parts of the country for a memorial service at the military cemetery on Mount Herzl for soldiers believed to have been killed in action but whose graves are unknown. Men and women, many weeping steadily, who lost husbands and sons 26 years ago in Israel’s War of Independence stood next to families who had suffered similar losses in the fighting of the Sinai campaign, the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur War and the fighting between the wars. The government representatives present included Premier Golda Meir. Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan.

The tensions and divisions stemming from the Yom Kippur War were manifest at the rite. When Dayan rose to speak, he was interrupted by a man and a woman among the mourners who yelled at him: “You criminal, you murderer, you killed them. You sent them to their deaths.” Dayan tried to ignore the interruption. He ended a brief address with the statement that “the youngest in our garden’s flowers became the defense wall of our country, the defense wall to our lives, our settlements and our future. Their living memory is higher than any stone tombstone.”

A bereaved father recited the Kaddish, an army cantor recited El Mole Rachamim and an army guard fired three rounds in honor of the dead soldiers. The rites originally had been scheduled for tomorrow, Adar 7 on the Hebrew calendar, traditionally the day of the death of Moses, “whose place of death is unknown.” It was moved back a day so that Sabbath observers could participate.

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