Photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom (GPO)

Memorial ceremonies have commemorated the 5oth anniversary of the Yom Kippur War.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attended a state service on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Monday.

President Isaac Herzog addressed a ceremony at Yad LaShiryon, Latrun to mark the war.

Netanyahu recalled the hasty mobilisation, shelling, forces’ distress calls on radio then radio calls within a few days by our forces as they stormed toward the Arab capitals.

He also recounted an uncompromising commitment to the land and state of Israel.

Netanyahu said: “Under the command of then IDF Chief-of-Staff David Elazar, ‘Dado’, we did what almost no other military in the world has succeeded in doing, to turn the first blow that we received on two fronts into a crushing campaign deep in the enemy’s territory.”

Netanyahu linked the conflict up to date in terms of potential peace accords.

He noted: “Today, many countries in the Middle East want peace with Israel. Together with our friend the United States, we are striving to realise this agreement (with Saudi Arabia), knowing that it will dramatically change the face of the region and strengthen our country’s status for generations. Expanding the circle of peace is a historic opportunity and I am completely committed to it, while upholding our country’s vital interests, especially security.

“None of this would be possible without the spirit of sacrifice and heroism displayed by our soldiers in the Yom Kippur War. But the turnaround they brought was achieved at the terrible price of thousands of fallen and wounded. The lesson that we learned from the Yom Kippur War is always before our eyes. We must not make light of the threats before us. We will thwart those who rise up to kill and destroy us. We will always do everything necessary to defend our country and we will always remember our loved ones who have fallen in the campaign for our existence.”

Herzog addressed regional developments and ongoing challenges faced by Israel before the festival on Sunday.

He said: “These are challenging and difficult, even dangerous, days for us as a society and as a country. Socially, economically and most importantly from a security perspective, the internal crisis poses a threat.

Herzog added: “At the time when we mark the anniversary of that terrible war, it is time for soul-searching. If we don’t draw lessons from the war, if we continue to be held prisoner to paradigms, if we continue to walk with our heads in the sand, if we miss opportunities for a peaceful home within there will be a heavy price to pay. National resilience and state security are directly related to the internal Israeli situation. Our elected officials must internalise this well.”

Herzog paid tribute to the sacrifice of IDF soldiers, noting: “Never must we be caught unprepared. We must not slump into arrogance, with a lack of deterrence and lack of warning. But an equally central lesson, is in the readiness for peace, the recognition of opportunities, which we later learned can change the face of the entire Middle East. The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, and the Abraham Accords, have proven that the Israeli yearning for peace is just, and that the State of Israel has reached out and will continue to reach out to all its neighbours near and far.”

Herzog welcomed the possibility of a historic agreement with Saudi Arabia.

He concluded: “The heroes of the Yom Kippur War could scarcely have imagined such developments. But the historical process of the integration of the State of Israel in the Middle East, a process that began with the peace agreement with Egypt and stretches to the existing stage of contacts with Saudi Arabia, is due to you. To your heroism, thanks to your sacrifice and thanks to the uncompromising belief in the justness of our path, in the defense of our homeland and pursuit of peace.”

“Generations upon generations have built a wondrous country and society here. So many have sacrificed for this country, that which they loved most of all. Let’s rise above the differences, reach out, make every effort to understand, respect, listen and accommodate.”