Israelis Sound Sirens to Commemorate Holocaust; Palestinians Mistake Sound for Air Raid
JERUSALEM (Associated Pulp) – Israel came to a standstill Thursday morning as sirens rang throughout the country at 10 a.m. to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Pedestrians stopped where they stood and cars came to a halt on roads across the country as Israelis paused to remember victims of the Holocaust, which came to an end 70 years ago.
Across the border, traffic on West Bank roads also came to a halt as drivers and pedestrians fled for cover. A momentary panic ensued in Ramallah as people rushed into nearby shops and houses looking for cover from what had generally been assumed was an air raid.
Thirteen Palestinians were reported hospitalized after throwing themselves to the pavement or being stepped on by strangers. Minor property damage from broken doors and overturned shelves was also widespread.
After the sirens stopped blaring, daily routines in Israel and its settlements resumed, but it took some minutes for many Palestinians to return to their cars as they awaited a strike.
“We should have known it was not an attack. They never sound any sirens,” said Said Farah, a lorry driver from Nablus. Farah had sat in an alleyway for almost half and hour after the sirens stopped before returning to his cement delivery.
The national day of remembrance began at 8 p.m. the previous evening, with an official state ceremony held at Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem. Other memorial services throughout the day proceeded without incident. The day was brought to a close the next evening by President Reuben Rivlin at Kibbutz Givat Mordechai.
At the concluding ceremony, Rivlin told those in attendance: “Alongside the murdered, I think of you, the Holocaust survivors who are still among us, many of you displaced children who war and destruction tore from your families.
“On this day, the painful questions arise. Do we have the means to raise our children with the heavy burden of memory, but free of the threat of horror? Can we commit them to memory in such a way that we can grow from them? Will it be possible to transform the memory of the Holocaust among the next generation into a power that builds, into national responsibility, creativity and vision?”
[photo of stopped cars by Uwe a]