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Sirens wail, millions of Israelis stop to honor Holocaust victims

Millions of Israelis stopped what they were doing at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday as sirens wailed for 2 minutes across the country for Holocaust Remembrance Day. The commemoration honors of the six million Jewish victims of Nazi persecution. See videos below.

Across the nation of 8 million citizens, traffic on roads and highways comes to a complete halt with drivers exiting their vehicles, busses, taxis and light rail lines, with pedestrians standing place. The scenes take place whether it be a busy freeway, crosswalk, shopping mall or airport terminals as they pay their respects in silence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials observed the somber moment of remembrance at a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.

Israeli lawmakers convened parliament for the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony, in which the names of Jewish victims of the Holocaust were read aloud.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people from around the world are participating in the March of the Living, an annual procession around the former Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz in Poland. This was followed by an official ceremony commemorating the victims of the Birkenau camp –one of the 40 subcamps in the Auschwitz complex where Jews were murdered en masse in gas chambers.

On Wednesday, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed an opening ceremony for the national day of remembrance at the Yad Vashem center.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held on January 27 but Israel commemorates it separately in May.