As the sirens began to wail, cars and buses pulled over to the side of the road and drivers got out to stand in silence in an annual ritual to mark Holocaust Day.
Memorial ceremonies began at sundown on Sunday and were to continue throughout Monday, with the main service taking place during the morning at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
Later in the morning, MPs and politicians were to attend a special session at the parliament, or Knesset to remember the dead.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said "the lessons of the Holocaust have not been learned," warning that hatred of Jews "still sweeps across the world... (and) is now directed against their state and its right to exist."
Around 204,000 Holocaust survivors live in the Jewish state which was established in 1948 in the wake of World War II during which six million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime.
Incidents of anti-Semitism across the world fell sharply in 2010 compared to the previous year but the numbers rose overall over the past decade, Tel Aviv University said in a report released on Sunday.