JERUSALEM -- Israel is commemorating its annual Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism.
Sirens sounded nationwide at 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday and Israelis halted and stood silently with heads bowed for a solemn moment in memory of the dead. The official memorial ceremony honoring the dead is being held at Jerusalem's Western Wall.
Memorial Day is one of the most somber days of the year for Israel, as bereaved families visit cemeteries and take part in remembrance ceremonies. Restaurants, theaters and other entertainment venues close, and TV and radio broadcast melancholy music and stories about Israel's wars and the dead.
The country mourns through Wednesday, and then will transition into jubilant celebration at sundown with the marking of Israel's 71th anniversary of independence.