JERUSALEM: Traffic across Israel ground to a halt for two minutes and pedestrians stood still as the nation paused on Monday to remember the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.
As sirens wailed at 7 a.m. (Manila time), 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 rightwing parties, which are a danger to every man and a warning to all peoples,” he added.
Netanyahu used the oppor–tunity to once again warn of the existential threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to the Jewish state.
“Today we face again concrete facts and real danger. Iran calls for our destruction—it is developing a nuclear weapon,” he said, urging the world to take action.
“I call on the leaders of world powers to insist on a full dismantling of Iran’s capability to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved,” he added.