World

Israelis honor war dead with sirens and ceremonies on annual Memorial Day

  • Israeli soldiers observe a minute of silence during a service marking Memorial Day at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, April 21, 2015.  Israelis marked Memorial Day starting Tuesday evening in remembrance of the nation's fallen soldiers. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

    Israeli soldiers observe a minute of silence during a service marking Memorial Day at the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, in Jerusalem's Old City, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Israelis marked Memorial Day starting Tuesday evening in remembrance of the nation's fallen soldiers. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)  (The Associated Press)

  • Israeli flags with a black ribbons sit in a box on before they are placed on graves of fallen soldiers on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Israel marks the annual Memorial Day in remembrance of soldiers who died in the nation's conflicts, beginning at dusk Tuesday until Wednesday evening. Writing in Hebrew reads, "Yizkor". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    Israeli flags with a black ribbons sit in a box on before they are placed on graves of fallen soldiers on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Israel marks the annual Memorial Day in remembrance of soldiers who died in the nation's conflicts, beginning at dusk Tuesday until Wednesday evening. Writing in Hebrew reads, "Yizkor". (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Israeli soldier places a small national flag with a black ribbon on the grave of a fallen soldier on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Israel marks the annual Memorial Day in remembrance of soldiers who died in the nation's conflicts, beginning at dusk Tuesday until Wednesday evening. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

    An Israeli soldier places a small national flag with a black ribbon on the grave of a fallen soldier on the eve of Memorial Day at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, April 21, 2015. Israel marks the annual Memorial Day in remembrance of soldiers who died in the nation's conflicts, beginning at dusk Tuesday until Wednesday evening. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)  (The Associated Press)

Israel has begun its annual Memorial Day commemoration for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Sirens wailed Tuesday night across Israel, bringing the country to a standstill. Israelis stopped in their tracks at 8 p.m. and stood silently for a minute to honor and remember the dead. The main memorial ceremony took place at Jerusalem's Western Wall.

Israel says 23,320 security personnel have been killed since 1860, when Jews began moving back to the area. Of those, 116 died in the past year, including 67 soldiers killed during a 50-day war in Gaza.

It's one of the most somber dates on the Israeli calendar. Places of entertainment shut down. Radio and TV stations air documentaries about wars.

The sad atmosphere ends sharply at sundown Wednesday when independence day celebrations begin.