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Israel observes Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 24, 2017

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the rest of his country in remembering victims of the genocide. The ceremonies will last until Monday evening.

Benjamin Netanyahu
Image: picture alliance/ZUMAPRESS/Jinipix

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu started Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday by saying the lessons of the Holocaust guide him "every morning and every evening," and warned Israel's opponents not to test him.

Netanyahu spoke at the main ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, and issued a stark warning to those who threaten to destroy Israel. His message was directed at Iran and the so-called Islamic State (IS) in particular.

"Iran and the Islamic State want to destroy us, and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today," said Netanyahu, adding, "those who threaten to destroy us risk being destroyed themselves."

Netanyahu added that Israel became a strong state in the wake of the genocide by Nazi Germany and its collaborators that killed one-third of all Jews in the world at the time.

"From being defenseless people, we have become a state with a defensive capacity that is among the strongest in the world," said Netanyahu.

The Holocaust killed 6 million Jews in ghettos and concentration camps during World War II.  Along with the main ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, six Holocaust survivors lit torches in memory of the victims of the atrocity. Israeli flags were lowered to half-mast across the country. Israel will come to a complete halt for two minutes at 10 a.m. local time (0700 UTC) on Monday for reflection as sirens wail in remembrance.

More than 213,000 Holocaust survivors currently live in Israel, with many of them living in poverty, according to survivors' groups.

Support from the US

US President Donald Trump, a strong ally to Netanyahu, also observed Holocaust Remembrance Day in a video message.

"The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide. They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear," said Trump in a speech to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York.

Trump also vowed to fight anti-Semitism.

"We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found," said Trump.

kbd/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)