JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday Israel would not give in to "subhuman" terrorists, as the Jewish state honoured its slain soldiers and civilians killed in militant attacks.
Netanyahu, at a ceremony at the Mount Herzl national cemetery, pointed to the case of Israeli toddler Adele Biton, still in critical condition after being hurt in a stone-throwing attack on her mother's car in the West Bank a month ago.
"As if anyone needed it we got a reminder that a stone is a lethal weapon," he said.
"The terror of stones thrown in an ambush joins the terror of petrol bombs, the terror of knives, the terror of shots and missiles, explosive devices, car bombs and suicide attacks," Netanyahu said.
"But we shall not retreat, not surrender, not give in ... Terror is not a blow from above, it is the work of humans, or subhumans. We shall defeat them."
In a Memorial Day ceremony at a military cemetery in Tel Aviv, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said that peace was nowhere to be seen on Israel's horizon.
"Terrorist attacks, the firing of rockets at civilian populations and delegitimisation campaigns are the challenges which stand before us in the years to come, they will accompany us for the foreseeable future and they will force us to respond with a firm hand," Yaalon said.
Earlier Monday, traffic came to a halt and pedestrians stood to attention for two minutes while sirens sounded nationwide.
Memorial Day is followed at sunset Monday by Independence Day, marking 65 years since the declaration of statehood on May 14, 1948, which is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar and this year falls on April 16.
Palestinians mark the occasion on May 15, when they commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe" of the creation of Israel, which sparked the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.