Israeli President Moshe Katzav lays a wreath at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem
There are somber observances in Israel as the nation observes Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The sirens wailed across Israel, and people everywhere observed two minutes of silence in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis during World War II. Traffic came to a standstill, and Israelis got out of their cars and stood reverently on the streets. Radio and TV broadcasts focused on Holocaust Remembrance Day and places of entertainment were closed.

The main ceremony was at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Six torches were lit by Holocaust survivors, in memory of the six million victims, as a cantor chanted the mournful prayer God Full of Mercy.

Israeli pop singer Sarit Hadad sang the moving song Shmah Yisrael, Hear O Israel.

Holocaust memorial ceremonies were also held at schools, army bases and in parliament, where the names of the victims were read, one by one.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the state of Israel is the answer to the Holocaust.

"The Jewish people have learned their lesson, " Mr. Sharon said. "Jews will never again be homeless and defenseless, never again.