An official state memorial ceremony was held on Sunday morning at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem to mark the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The ceremony, held in remembrance of the 2,656 Israel Defense Forces soldiers who fell in battle during the three-week war in the fall of 1973, was attended by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz.
"The duty of the leadership of the people is to be sober, not guided by illusions or false hopes," Netanyahu said in an address at the event. "The leadership must look at the strategic space, always be prepared on time, and sometimes make the tough choice -- between bad and worse. And it must ensure the existence of the State of Israel. That existence depends not only on our defensive capabilities, but also a crushing offensive force. The enemy knows that the price it would pay for aggression against us would be unbearable."
"This is the true foundation of or deterrence and ultimately the true foundation of our existence," Netanyahu said.
"We find ourselves today in a different era [than the Yom Kippur War], in the midst of a regional earthquake, the likes of which has not been seen since the founding of the state," Netanyahu said in an address at the event. "We face new threats -- missiles, cyber and also weapons of mass destruction."
"We hope that the understandings reached between the United States and Russia will yield results," Netanyahu said. "These understandings will be judged by their results -- the destruction of the chemical weapons stockpiles that the Syrian regime used against its citizens. The test of results also applies to the international community's efforts to stop the nuclear armament of Iran."
"In any case, Israel must be ready and prepared to defend itself by itself from any threat," Netanyahu said. "Our readiness and capabilities are more important now than ever. Israel is stronger than ever before. But with this, we remember that our true strength remains the spirit of our people."
Peres talked about how memories of the war still linger among Israelis who lived through it.
"Forty years have passed," Peres said. "A large majority of Israelis today did not personally experience the shock, the horrifying siren, rising and falling, that tore through the sacred silence of Yom Kippur. But all those who were alive in Israel at the time will never forget the terrible moment that shook the state."
Speaking of the Israeli soldiers who fell in the war, Peres said, "They saved Israel. They brought salvation to their people."
On the situation in Syria, Peres said, "The disarmament deal backed by a military threat should be a lesson to the leaders of Iran. The president of Syria, Bashar Assad now has no choice but to comply with the terms of the agreement."
Ya'alon said Israel must continue to abide by the lessons learned from the Yom Kippur War.
"We must demand from ourselves to make sure that we express and listen to different opinions, to reject the tyranny of thought," Ya'alon said. "We must remember the danger of immodesty and illusions, continually re-examine the validity of the concepts that guide us, not take anything for granted and never underestimate the enemy."
On the U.S.-Russia deal on Syrian chemical weapons disarmament, Ya'alon said, "The test will be its implementation."