Israel marks somber Memorial Day with wailing siren

Israelis marking Memorial Day have come to a two-minute halt to honor the memory of fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

Motor vehicles stopped on the highways as a siren wailed nationwide Wednesday at 11 a.m. (0800 GMT), their passengers exiting to stand with heads bowed. Bereaved families visited cemeteries of fallen loved ones and attended memorial ceremonies.

Israel has fought half a dozen wars with neighboring Arab countries, battled two Palestinian uprisings and endured dozens of deadly militant attacks since its founding in 1948. It honors 23,471 fallen soldiers, and the list of slain civilians, over 3,100 long, grew after four Israelis were killed by Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza over the weekend.

At sundown the country transitions from sorrow to celebration and marks its 71st Independence Day.