Israel stands in silence for 2 minutes for Holocaust Remembrance Day

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April 8 (UPI) — Israelis stood in silence on Thursday morning for the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day to honor 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II.

The country came to a standstill for 2 minutes at 10 a.m. to mark the remembrance, at which time sirens were heard across Israel.

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Each year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah, the 2-minute period completely brings just about all activity to a full stop. Thursday, drivers stood by their vehicles on roads nationwide, pedestrians stopped and traffic ground to a halt when the sirens sounded.

An official opening event at the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem was held Wednesday night to begin ceremonies for the annual remembrance. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and some Holocaust survivors and their families were in attendance.

During the ceremony, Rivlin spoke of the 900 Holocaust survivors who died over the past year from COVID-19.

“They survived the ghettos and the death camps, the immigrant ships and the internment camps,” he said, according to The Times of Israel. “But the final battle of their lives was fought with them bewildered and isolated, behind masks and gloves, yearning for contact but parted from their loved ones.”

Thursday, Rivlin and Netanyahu laid a wreath at the museum during a remembrance ceremony.

On Thursday morning, Knesset lawmakers read out the names of Holocaust victims during the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony. Other remembrance ceremonies in schools, army bases and government buildings were scheduled for later Thursday.

Holocaust Remembrance Day is a national memorial day in Israel and has been observed since the 1950s.