Israel is deeply saddened and angry on Memorial Day.


TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Ruby Chen's son, Eita, has been killed. Hamas attack October 7. But unlike other families of soldiers killed that day, Chen has no grave to visit as her son's remains lie. Imprisoned in Gaza.

The absence of a final resting place is being keenly felt now, as Israel observes Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers, when cemeteries are filled with relatives mourning the graves of their loved ones.

“Where are we going?” Chen said. “We have no burial ground to go to.”

A poster depicting fallen Israeli soldier Ete Chen hangs in an installation representing a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Tel Aviv.  Itay was killed in a Hamas attack on October 7.  But unlike other families, the soldiers killed that day do not have a grave to visit because their son's remains are imprisoned in Gaza.  The absence of a final resting place is being keenly felt now, as Israel observes Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers, when cemeteries are filled with relatives mourning the graves of their loved ones.  (AP Photo/Maya Elrozo)

A poster depicting fallen Israeli soldier Ete Chen hangs in an installation representing a tunnel in the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, May 8, 2024, in Tel Aviv.

Memorial Day is always a solemn occasion in Israel, a country that has been plagued by war and conflict many times over its 76-year history. But Chen's torment indicates how this year he bore a deep and raw sorrow, along with anger over the failures of October 7 and the war it sparked.

Families of the victims, along with broad sections of the public, are demanding accountability from political and military leaders for the blunders that led to hundreds of deaths in the deadliest attack in the country's history.

“A lot of people were killed that day because of a huge misunderstanding,” said Chen, who believed her son was still alive after being kidnapped in Gaza, before receiving confirmation earlier this year that he was. He is dead. “Those who made the wrong decision will have to pay, from the prime minister down.”

Israel commemorates its fallen soldiers and victims of the attacks as a day of remembrance that begins at sundown on Sunday and begins the next day with an official ceremony and smaller ceremonies at military cemeteries across the country. Then the solemnity is suddenly interrupted by the Independence Day fanfare that begins on Monday evening.

The purpose of grouping the two days together is to deliberately highlight the connection between the costly wars Israel has fought and the establishment and survival of the state, a contrast that will be difficult to reconcile this year at a time when Israel is at war. Israel is active. Feel more insecure than ever.

With the shock of October 7, expect each day to feel dramatically different from previous years.

More than 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, when thousands of militants attacked southern Israeli military bases and sleepy communities on the Jewish holiday.

Family members and activists carry an empty coffin during a mock funeral for Israelis ahead of Israel's Memorial Day, whose remains were taken by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem, Thursday. 9th May 2024.  Memorial Day is always a solemn occasion in Israel.  But since October 7, it has given rise to a deep and raw sadness and anger.  (AP Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)

Family members and activists carry an empty coffin during a mock funeral for Israelis ahead of Israel's Memorial Day, whose remains were taken by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip near the Israeli parliament building in Jerusalem, Thursday. 9th May 2024. (Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)

A view of the Mount Herzl military cemetery is shown on Thursday, May 9, 2024 in Jerusalem.  Israel observes its annual Day of Remembrance, commemorating the soldiers who died in the country's conflicts, from the evening of Sunday, May 12, to the evening of Monday, May 13. (AP Photo/Ohad Zweigenberg)

A view of the Mount Herzl military cemetery is shown in Jerusalem, Thursday, May 9, 2024. (AP Photo/Ohad Zugenberg)

According to Israeli officials, about 1,200 people were killed that day, about a quarter of them soldiers, and another 250 were captured in Gaza. Flared by the attack. warNow in its eighth month, that has killed more than 34,700 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to local health officials.

Militants breached border fences, blinded surveillance cameras and battled the country's first line of defense troops, many of whom were heavily outnumbered. Israeli-American Eta Chen was one of them.

The militants reached about 20 different locations in southern Israel, extending from the strip of farming communities that stretch into Gaza to cities outside. It took the region's most powerful army hours to send reinforcements to the area and days to wipe out all the militants.

The attack shook Israel to its core. It broke the long-held widespread trust of the country's Jewish population in the army, which mostly includes compulsory conscription for Jews as young as 18.

Beyond the crisis of confidence in the military, the attack shattered Israelis' confidence in their government and prime minister. Benjamin NetanyahuWhich decreased in public support. Thousands of people take part in weekly protests demanding early elections so that a new leadership can take power.

Military and defense leaders have said they are responsible for what happened during the attack, and the country's military intelligence chief. resigned as a result. But Netanyahu did Stopped accepting responsibilitySaying he would answer tough questions after the war and even blaming his security chiefs in a late-night post on X last year that he later deleted. His refusal to own his character angered many.

But many Israelis have also lost patience with the long war, where soldiers continue to die and where Thousands have been injured.

Hagit Chen holds a necklace depicting her son, fallen Israeli soldier Ete Chen, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  Aye Chan was killed in a Hamas attack on October 7.  But unlike other families of soldiers killed that day, the Chans have no grave to visit as their son's remains are held in Gaza.  The absence of a final resting place is being keenly felt now, as Israel observes Memorial Day for its fallen soldiers, when cemeteries are filled with relatives mourning the graves of their loved ones.  (AP Photo/Maya Elrozo)

Hagit Chen holds a necklace depicting her son, fallen Israeli soldier Ete Chen, in Tel Aviv, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Elrozo

The two goals of the war, defeating Hamas's rule and military capabilities and freeing the hostages, were not achieved, overshadowing events that normally salute the military's capabilities, military expert Idit Shafran Gittleman said. said Israeli Society at the Institute for National Security Studies, a think tank in Tel Aviv. Tens of thousands of Israelis are also displaced from the country's south and volatile north.

“Since October 7, Israelis have been asking themselves how they will endure Independence Day and Independence Day. And I don't think anyone has an answer,” he said, adding that one thing What can improve public sentiment is elections and a new government.

The anger that has boiled over at Memorial Day ceremonies at military cemeteries across the country is likely to boil over. The ceremonies are generally considered sacred, solemn and apolitical, although they are attended by government ministers and legislators.

Some families have asked ministers to avoid getting involved, out of fear A repeat of last yearwhen attendees at several events shouted down lawmakers who supported a divisive government plan to replace the judiciary.

“This is an event that failed leadership and a failed security apparatus led us to this,” said Eyal Eshel, whose daughter, Roni, was killed in a militant attack on a base on October 7 and who urged ministers to attend. Leading the charge to stop. told Israeli Channel 12. “Respect the families' request: don't come.” Regardless, ministers still have to fan out at cemeteries across the country.

But other changes are being made specifically to reflect the serious mood for Independence Day. The official opening ceremony will be shortened and there will be no live audience. Conventional Air Force fly-bys have been cancelled.

Israelis are wondering what's the right way to celebrate – and whether there's much to celebrate.

“People have stopped believing that the country is capable of defending us,” said Tom Segev, an Israeli historian. “Here fundamental confidence in the state's ability to ensure a better future is undermined.”

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Follow AP's coverage of the battle. https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war



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