Israel came to a standstill as it observed two minutes of silence to remember fallen soldiers and victims of terror as the country marked Memorial Day, one of the most sombre days on the Israeli calendar. At 11am a siren rang out and Israelis stopped what they were doing and stood still. Motorists pulled over on the sides of the roads and stood next to their vehicles.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Israel's military chiefs led the main Memorial Day service at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem. Netanyahu laid a wreath and addressed families of the recently fallen. The Defence Ministry said that 23,447 people had "fallen in defence of Israel since 1860".

Israel Memorial Day
Israeli scouts take part in a ceremony marking Memorial Day at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in JerusalemRonen Zvulun/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
An Israeli policewoman lays a wreath under a monument engraved with names of fallen Israeli soldiers, before the start of a ceremony marking Memorial Day in JerusalemRonen Zvulun/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to a relative of a fallen soldier before the start of a ceremony marking Memorial Day in JerusalemRonen Zvulun/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
An Israeli soldier fires an honour salute during a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers at the military cemetery on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the Dome of the Rock mosque in JerusalemGali Tibbon/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israeli soldiers stand guard next to a military cemetery before a ceremony marking Memorial Day start on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem's Old CityRonen Zvulun/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
Israeli soldiers stand to attention during a memorial ceremony for fallen soldiers at the military cemetery on the Mount of Olives in JerusalemGali Tibbon/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israelis stand still besides their vehicles as a two-minute siren marks Memorial Day in JerusalemAmmar Awad/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
A girl touches a memorial stone with the name of a crew member aboard the Dakar submarine at a memorial on Mount Herzl military cemetery in JerusalemBaz Ratner/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
Israeli soldiers salute as they stand next to graves of fallen soldiers during a ceremon at the Kiryat Shaul military cemetery in Tel AvivBaz Ratner/Reuters
Israel Memorial Day
Roses are placed on a commemorative plaque honouring fallen Israeli soldiers at the Armoured Corps Memorial in LatrunJack Guez/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israeli soldiers observe a two-minute silence in front of a commemorative plaque honouring fallen Israeli soldiers at the Armoured Corps Memorial in Latrun, between Jerusalem and Tel AvivJack Guez/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israelis visit the Mount Herzel military cemetery in Jerusalem on Memorial DayMenahem Kahana/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
An Israeli man grieves at his father's memorial stone at the Mount Herzel military cemetery in JerusalemMenahem Kahana/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
An Israeli child plays with an unarmed machine gun on top of a tank at the Armoured Corps memorial in Latrun, between Jerusalem and Tel AvivJack Guez/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israeli soldiers stand to attention during a state ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old CityGali Tibbon/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
An Israeli soldier wipes his eyes during a Remembrance Day ceremony commemorating fallen soldiers, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old CityGali Tibbon/AFP
Israel Memorial Day
Israelis visit the graves of loved ones at the Mount Herzel military cemetery in JerusalemMenahem Kahana/AFP

The solemn atmosphere will end abruptly at sundown, when Independence Day celebrations start.