Jerusalem, Apr 21 (efe-epa).- Israel remembered victims of the Holocaust on Tuesday with a two-minute silence broken only by the wailing of anti-aircraft sirens.
The country marked Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah), commemorating the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ceremonies began at 10 am local time when the sound of sirens filled the air, pedestrians stopped in the street and drivers brought their vehicles to a halt to stand beside them.
Many Israelis closed their eyes in a moment of reflection and respect as they paid homage to those who were killed in the genocide during World War Two.
There was slightly more traffic and people in Jerusalem on Tuesday than recent weeks after authorities eased lockdown measures on Sunday which had been imposed to help contain the outbreak.
The streets were still quieter than before the pandemic emerged.
Those few people who were outside stopped whatever they were doing, standing up if they were sitting, to show their respect to those who died.
One resident, named only as Sabina, said: “This is a tradition in our country. Get up and remember, think of all those who have died.
“It is very important for us to remember. Especially on days like this. Remember all of our dead.”
The two-minute silence was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the national Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
There will also be a commemorative event in Israel’s parliament the Knesset, where every year the names of all the victims are read aloud.
Thousands of people usually come together to attend remembrance ceremonies throughout the country but this year the events were closed to the public due to the outbreak.
Many of the events were live-streamed online as the country continued to observe social distancing measures.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the population, Holocaust survivors and the families of the 181 people who have died in the country from Covid-19.
“We face many difficulties at this time, but they cannot and do not compare by any measure with the methodical, diabolical extinction of six million Jews,” he said.
“We are currently facing a dangerous plague but plagues ravaged the ghettos and camps.
“The confinement of 10,000s of Jews in a very small area claimed countless victims who died from typhus and dysentery.”
There have been more than 13,800 confirmed infections in the country since the virus first emerged in China in December, according to John Hopkins University in the United States. EFE-EPA