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Fallen Israelis honored on Memorial Day

Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s enemies will not destroy the country.

Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s enemies will not destroy the country.

JERUSALEM — Israel began its 65th annual Memorial Day observance Sunday, reflecting on sacrifices, its accomplishments as a prosperous homeland for the Jewish people, and its elusive search for peace with its ­Arab neighbors.

At 8 p.m., air raid sirens sounded nationwide to mark a minute of silence to honor the country’s fallen soldiers and victims of militant attacks. A two-minute siren was to sound Monday morning.

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At sundown Monday, the country will abruptly shift its mood to mark its 65th Independence Day with fireworks, military processions, and picnics. The transformation from grief to joy is an annual ritual meant to show the link between the losses and the gains.

‘‘Today there are also those who rise up against us and threaten to destroy us. They did not succeed in the past, and they will never succeed,’’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Memorial Day ceremony Sunday.

Dominating the short-term issues facing the country is Iran’s nuclear program, which Israel believes is aimed at developing an atomic weapon that could be used against the Jewish state, despite Iranian denials. Unrest along Israel’s borders is equally worrisome.

Over the longer term, reaching peace with the Palestinians remains elusive, with the sides unable to agree even on how to restart negotiations. Palestinians consider creation of ­Israel a catastrophe that caused a stubborn refugee problem.

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