Yom Hazikaron is the national remembrance day observed in Israel. National memorial services are held in the presence of Israel’s top leadership and military personnel. The day opens with a siren the preceding evening, Sunday 30th April, 2017 at 20:00 (8:00 pm), given that in the Hebrew calendar system, a day begins at sunset. The siren is heard all over the country and lasts for one minute, during which Israelis stop everything (including driving, which stops highways) and stand in silence, commemorating the fallen and showing respect. The official ceremony to mark the opening of the day takes place at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and the flag of Israel is lowered to half mast.
A two-minute siren is sounded at 11:00 the following morning, Monday 1st May 2017, which marks the opening of the official memorial ceremonies and private remembrance gatherings at each cemetery where soldiers are buried. Many Israelis visit the resting places of loved ones throughout the day. The day officially draws to a close between 19:00 and 20:00 (7–8 p.m.) with the official ceremony of Israel Independence Day at the national military cemetery on Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, when the Israeli flag is returned to full mast.
Scheduling Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) right before Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) is intended to remind people of the price paid for independence and of what was achieved with the soldiers’ sacrifice. This transition shows the importance of this day among Israelis, most of whom have served in the armed forces or have a connection with people who were killed during their military service.