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Israelis mark Memorial Day with silent tributes to the fallen

A wailing siren sounded across Israel Monday morning, bringing the country to a standstill in two minutes of silence to mark Memorial Day for fallen soldiers and victims of militant attacks.

Tara Todras-Whitehill / AP

An Israeli woman stands still next to her car on a highway as a siren marking the annual Memorial Day sounds in Jerusalem on Monday, May 9.

Amir Cohen / Reuters

Israeli youths stand still on a breakwater at the marina in the southern city of Ashkelon on May 9, 2011, as a two-minute siren marking Memorial Day is sounded across the country.

Menahem Kahana / AFP - Getty Images

Israelis and tourists observe two minutes of silence as a siren wails across the country marking Remembrance Day for the fallen soldiers, at Jerusalem's Ben Yehuda pedestrian street, on May 9.

On Sunday evening in Tel Aviv, photographer Oded Balilty attended a pre- Memorial Day event that included Palestinians who have lost loved ones in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His photographs of couples hugging, reproduced below, are a creative and moving response to the story. Read more about the event in our article, Israel's Memorial Day highlights stark divisions.

Oded Balilty / AP

An Israeli couple hug each other as they mark Memorial Day at an event in Tel Aviv on Sunday, May 8.

Oded Balilty / AP

An Israeli couple hug each other as they mark Memorial Day at an event in Tel Aviv on Sunday, May 8.

Oded Balilty / AP

An Israeli couple hug each other as they mark Memorial Day at an event in Tel Aviv on Sunday, May 8.