Jerusalem - The wail of air raid sirens has sounded across Israel and the country came to a standstill in tribute to 6 million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust.

For two minutes on Thursday morning, pedestrians stopped in their tracks and motorists stood next to their vehicles, heads bowed. In homes and businesses, people suspended their daily tasks to pay homage.

The day is one of the most solemn on Israel's calendar. Restaurants and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programming focuses on Holocaust documentaries and interviews with survivors.

At the opening state ceremony on Wednesday, Israeli leaders linked the Nazi genocide to Iran's suspected drive to acquire nuclear arms and urged the world to stop it. Iran denies such intentions. - Sapa-AP