Israel stands still for Holocaust Remembrance Day

Israelis have stood still for a nationwide moment of silence in remembrance of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

A two-minute siren wailed across the country and the nation paid respects to those systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators in the Second World War.

As every year on Holocaust Remembrance Day, buses and cars came to a halt as Israelis stepped out of their vehicles, standing with heads bowed in solemn remembrance.

People stand still by their cars on a free way as a two-minute silence in memory of victims of the Holocaust in Tel Aviv. Photo: AP Photo/Ariel Schalit.

The sombre day is also marked by ceremonies and memorials at schools and community centres.

Restaurants and cafes in the ordinarily bustling streets of Tel Aviv close, and TV and radio stations play Holocaust-themed programmes.

Dignitaries laid wreaths at Yad Vashem, the national Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

A third of the world's Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

Israel was established afterwards in 1948, and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled to the Jewish state.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a Holocaust memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem and warned that Iran should not test Israel amid rising tensions in Syria.

"Events of recent days teach that standing up to evil and aggression is a mission imposed on every generation," Mr Netanyahu said.

"Today as well, a murderous regime threatens us, threatens entire world peace, this regime explicitly declares that it intends to annihilate us, the Jewish state," he said, alluding to Iran.

Mr Netanyahu compared the 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler in the run-up to the Second World War.

He said the agreement "released the Iranian regime from its chains and since has devoured country after country, similar to what happened in Europe in the 1930s".

Israel regards Iran as an existential threat because of its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and support for anti-Israel organisations such as the Shiite militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon and Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Tehran insists that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

- Digital Desk and Press Association


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