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Memorial to Israel’s fallen soldiers, terror victims gets go-ahead

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Cabinet approved the establishment of a memorial on Mount Herzl to Israel’s fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

The Hall of Names memorial approved Sunday will list the 22,993 names of those who have been killed fighting in Israel’s declared and undeclared wars and those slain in terrorist attacks. The names of the dead will be inscribed on bricks.

Also Sunday, Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz visited the graves of three soldiers who recently died while in uniform, including 2nd Lt. Hila Bezaleli, who was killed last week when the lighting scaffolding collapsed onto the stage set up during a rehearsal at Mount Herzl for the annual Memorial Day/Independence Day ceremony. Defense Minister Ehud Barak visited Bezaleli’s parents.

The memorial hall, which is expected to cost nearly $11 million, also will serve as a venue for state ceremonies and official visits, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has been talking about a central hall to enshrine the memories of the fallen for decades and "the time has come to make a decision."

"We are a people that overflows with memory," he said. "We are doing this out of deep recognition of the contribution of the fallen, and I hope that such places will no longer be necessary."

According to official figures released in advance of this week’s Israel’s Remembrance Day for Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism, the total number of fallen security personnel and terror victims from 1860 to 2012 stands at 22,993, with 126 killed since last  Remembrance Day. There are 10,524 bereaved families of security personnel, 2,396 orphans and 4,992 widows of the Israeli military and the defense establishment.
 

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