Israel paused on Thursday to remember the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and mourn those who survived the Holocaust only to be lost in the past year to the pandemic.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, sirens wailed nationwide for two minutes while pedestrians paused and drivers pulled their cars over on streets and highways. According to official figures, 174,500 Holocaust survivors are still alive in Israel. Eighty-three per cent of them are older than 80, and 18 per cent are older than 90.
More than 900 Holocaust survivors in Israel are older than 100. President Reuven Rivlin said late on Wednesday at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial that some 900 survivors in Israel died “as a direct result” of the coronavirus pandemic.
He said many of them spent their final days “distraught and isolated, behind masks and protective gloves, longing for contact but separated from their loved ones.” “Our hearts are with them and their families,” Rivlin said.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients suffering from a severe case of the disease in Israel dropped below 300 for the first time in over fourth months, despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions in the country.
The Health Ministry reported 290 active severe cases on Thursday, the lowest number since December. Infection rates are generally on decline in Israel, with 274 new cases being detected over the last 24 hours.
This is largely due to the country’s successful roll-out of its coronavirus vaccine campaign. So far, 5.3 million Israelis have received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 4.9 million inhabitants of the country of 9 million have received two doses.