Jerusalem: As Israel prepares to pay tribute to 23,169 casualties of war and terrorism since 1860, the country`s defence minister has pledged to pursue peace but warned to sever the hands of those who sought the Jewish nation`s demise.
"Israel marks its 66th year of independence this week but unfortunately we have not reached the end of our travails and we have not reached tranquillity," he said.
Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism is Israel`s official Memorial Day held every year on May 5.
Several events marking the Remembrance Day will start on its eve this evening after a?minute-long siren across the country.
A two-minute siren will also be heard tomorrow at 11 am across the country marking the start of official memorial ceremonies held at 52 military cemeteries.
The Defence Ministry today said that 57 recently fallen had been added to the casualty count since Remembrance Day of 2013, and that an additional 50 disabled army veterans have died due to their disabilities.
"We will not be deterred. We`ll continue to seek peace, but we`ll cut off the hand of those who seek our demise," Moshe Ya`alon, Israel`s defence minster, was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post.
The number of bereaved family members stands at 17,038, of which 2,141 are orphans and 4,966 are Israel Defence Forces (IDF) widows.
"The air raid sirens that will piece the air on the eve of Remembrance Day will be the sign that transforms personal loss, which is so agonising, to everyone`s loss," he said.
"It seems that there is no Israeli citizen who has not experienced bereavement, whether it`s personal or through knowing friends who fell," Ya`alon added.
"Soldiers who sacrificed everything leave a vacuum that will never be filled. Its difficult to describe in words the depth of the pain. How much they are missed," he said.
"The feeling of missing them, which envelopes you, the family members, every day and every hour. The sorrow and grief, which envelop you day and night, and do not let up, filling up the whole land."
The Defence Minister also lit a virtual candle on Thursday, using a Facebook application, to mark Remembrance Day and said that "remembering the fallen is a moral debt we all have, since through their deaths, they promised us life."
The Defence Ministry is preparing for the arrival of more than a million and a half people at military cemeteries across the country.
The memorial ceremonies across the country will transform into the revelry of Independence Day celebrations tomorrow.