Israel marks solemn Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers

Israelis have come to a two-minute standstill to remember fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism as the country marks Memorial Day, one of the most somber days on its calendar.

Motorists pulled over on the sides of highways and roads, and pedestrians stopped in their tracks as a siren rang out at 11 a.m. Wednesday. A minute of silence was similarly observed on Tuesday evening.

Israelis are visiting cemeteries and attending remembrance ceremonies. Radio and television networks broadcast programs about battle and loss.

The melancholic atmosphere is to end abruptly at sundown, when Israel's 70th Independence Day celebrations start.

Israel has fought half a dozen wars with Arab countries since its establishment in 1948, battled two Palestinian uprisings and endured dozens of deadly militant attacks.