Israelis stood to attention as sirens around the country sounded at the beginning of the annual Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.

The day is one of the most somber dates on the Israeli calendar. After decades of conflicts, most Israelis have lost friends or relatives or know someone who has.

Bars, restaurants and other places of entertainment closed for the daylong commemoration beginning Tuesday evening.

Israel said 22,993 of its soldiers and civilians have been killed since 1860, when Jews began moving back to the area.

A second siren is scheduled to be sounded Wednesday morning, when memorial ceremonies are set for around the country.

In contrast, Israel's Independence Day begins after sundown Wednesday, and Israelis plan to take to the streets in celebration.