Israelis came to mournful, two-minute standstill Thursday as sirens pierced the air in remembrance of the 6 million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.

Israel's annual Holocaust memorial day, marked Thursday, is one of the most solemn on the nation's calendar.

As the siren sounded, cars and buses pulled over on the side of highways and roads. Motorists stepped out of their cars and pedestrians stopped in their tracks, bowing their heads as they remembered those who perished.

Melancholic music and interviews with Holocaust survivors are filling the airwaves while TV stations show documentaries about the genocide.

Ceremonies are held around the country. Names of those killed are read out at parliament later in the day.

The official state ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day began at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem, according to Haaretz.

"In our harrowing journey, you were the pillar of fire that led us forward,” said Israeli President Reuben Rivlin, speaking to Holocaust survivors. “You, who found the strength to rise above the ashes and the ovens, taught us to choose life. You, who loved and laughed, who built your own homes and a national home, you led our entire nation."

Rivlin described the Holocaust as a “point of terror in humanity.

“But the Jewish journey does not start there, and it doesn't end there,” he added. “The Jewish journey begins in Israel."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also spoke at the event, reiterated his warnings about a framework agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear activity.

“This bad agreement with Iran teaches that the lesson of history has not been internalized in the face of Iran's aggressive activities," Netanyahu said. "The West is giving up instead of demanding that a significant dismantling of Iran's nuclear capability and condition the lifting of the sanctions. The powers are retreating, they are leaving Iran with its nuclear capabilities and even allow it to expand them in the future, its activities in the Middle East notwithstanding.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.