No-show by Israeli officials upsets bereaved families


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The failure of government ministers to appear at a ceremony for casualties of the Yom Kippur War has riled the soldiers’ families.

The ceremony is held annually at the Kiryat Shaul Cemetery, where nearly 800 soldiers killed during the 1973 war are buried.

The 4,000 bereaved family members and loved ones reportedly threatened to cancel Sunday’s ceremony.

"While the government is busy discussing social justice, they create a distortion elsewhere," said Eli Ben Shem, chairman of Yad Lebanim, an organization that supports bereaved families. "The ministers conveyed a harsh message to the fallen and their families — the State of Israel doesn’t want to remember that a few decades ago some 2,700 soldiers died to defend this country."

The minister who was scheduled to speak, Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled, was delayed because he was waiting for the debate on passage of the Trajtenberg report to finish so he could vote on the measure. Peled was replacing Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who canceled his appearance late last week. 

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former chief rabbi of Israel, spoke at the ceremony though he had not been scheduled to address the mourners.

Government ministers did attend a ceremony Sunday for the fallen of the Yom Kippur War held at the national cemetery on Mount Herzl, as did Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and the head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivay.

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