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Israel Observes Memorial Day for Its War Dead

Israel is observing Memorial Day for its war dead. Amid the sorrow, Israelis are hoping for better days.

The sirens wailed, and Israelis everywhere observed a minute of silence for the 22,123 men and women who died defending the nation since it was established in 1948. The number includes victims of terrorist attacks.

The main ceremony took place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the last remnant of the Biblical Temples that marks the holiest place in Judaism. A cantor chanted the mournful prayer "God Full of Mercy."

It is a somber day in Israel. Places of entertainment are closed, and radio and TV broadcasts are dedicated to those who died in battle.

Incoming Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed bereaved families at the site of a bloody battle in Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967.

"I pledge to do everything I can to avert further losses and grief over our sons, and to bring security and peace to our nation," said Ehud Olmert.

At sundown on Tuesday, mourning will turn to joy, when Israel celebrates its 58th Independence Day.