Middle East

Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

  • People look at an exhibit as they tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Jerusalem, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Israel is marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day beginning at sunset Sunday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

    People look at an exhibit as they tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Jerusalem, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Israel is marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day beginning at sunset Sunday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)  (The Associated Press)

  • People visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Israel is marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day beginning at sunset Sunday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

    People visit Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, Sunday, April 23, 2017. Israel is marking the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day beginning at sunset Sunday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)  (The Associated Press)

  • Israelis stand still next to their cars as a siren sounds in memory of victims of the Holocaust, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 24, 2017. Israel has come to a standstill as people stopped in their tracks for a two-minute siren that wailed across the country in remembrance of the Holocaust's 6 million Jewish victims. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)

    Israelis stand still next to their cars as a siren sounds in memory of victims of the Holocaust, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Monday, April 24, 2017. Israel has come to a standstill as people stopped in their tracks for a two-minute siren that wailed across the country in remembrance of the Holocaust's 6 million Jewish victims. (AP Photo/ Sebastian Scheiner)  (The Associated Press)

Israel has come to a standstill as people stopped in their tracks for a two-minute siren that wailed across the country in remembrance of the Holocaust's 6 million Jewish victims.

The ritual is the centerpiece of Israel's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day for those systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. Motorists pulled over on Monday morning, stepping outside their vehicles, heads bowed in silence.

It's one of the most melancholy days on Israel's calendar. Solemn ceremonies are held in schools and community centers. Cafes and places of entertainment shut down while TV and radio stations broadcast documentaries about the Holocaust and its victims.

The Holocaust wiped out a third of world Jewry. Israel was established in 1948 and hundreds of thousands of survivors fled there.