2 minute silence as Israel remembers Holocaust
Published Monday 28/04/2014 (updated) 29/04/2014 22:47
Israelis stop their vehicles on the highway and stand still in the
Mediterranean coastal city of Tel Aviv on April 28, 2014, as
sirens sounded across Israel for a two-minute silence in
memory of Holocaust victims.(AFP Jack Guez)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Traffic across Israel ground to a halt for two minutes on Monday to remember the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
As sirens wailed at 10 a.m., the activity on the normally-bustling streets of Jerusalem abruptly stopped as people froze to observe a ritual which takes place every year on Holocaust memorial day, which began at sundown on Sunday.
Radio and television stations, which have been broadcasting a string of programs on the Nazi genocide, also fell silent.
This year's memorial is focused on the memory of more than 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were massacred in 1944.
During the morning, top Israeli dignitaries including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres were to lay wreaths at a ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.
Opening the memorial events at a ceremony on Sunday evening, Peres said Israel and the world must remain ever vigilant against the global threat posed by anti-Semitism.
"We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried," he said.
"We must not ignore the rise of nuanced neo-Nazi extreme right-wing parties, which are a danger to every man and a warning to all peoples."
On Sunday, Netanyahu dismissed President Mahmoud Abbas' remarks mourning victims of the Holocaust as a public relations stunt aimed at placating the international community.
"Instead of issuing statements designed to placate global public opinion, Abu Mazen (Abbas) needs to choose between the alliance with Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and denies the Holocaust, and a true peace with Israel," he said.
Earlier, Abbas called the Holocaust the "the most heinous crime against humanity in modern history" and extended his condolences to the "families of the victims and the innocent people who were killed by the Nazis including the Jews and others."
For many Israeli Jews, Palestinian recognition of the widespread killing of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust is considered important because it entails recognition of the historical trauma suffered by the Jewish people.
Palestinian leaders, however, have not historically made statements on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, pointing out that Palestinians had nothing to do with the tragedy.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report