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Israel Memorializes 17,150 War Dead

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Sirens wailed all over Israel for one minute at 8 p.m. local time Tuesday, announcing the start of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day, the 24 hours Israel dedicates to the memory of its war dead.

The annual ritual is now in its fifth decade and the number of fallen soldiers has grown steadily over the years.

According to the latest figures released Sunday, 17,150 Israelis died in battle since 1948 and over 56,000 were wounded, many of them maimed.

Memorial Day ceremonies began officially Tuesday evening with the lighting of a beacon at the Western Wall in the presence of President Chaim Herzog and the Israel Defense Force chief of staff, Gen. Ehud Barak.

Flags were lowered to half-mast on all public buildings. Local memorial ceremonies were held at synagogues, community centers and military cemeteries all over the country.

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