Dignitaries including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were treated to an authentic performance of a traditional Maori dance during Tuesday’s centennial celebration of the pivotal World War I Battle of Beersheba.
A group of roughly two dozen reenactors of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) shouted and stomped out the war cry known as the haka, typically performed by warriors before heading into battle.
While it was traditionally seen as a proclamation of strength used to intimidate the enemy, the haka is also performed in the presence of distinguished guests and at major life events.
Alongside Netanyahu were his Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull; and New Zealand Governor-General Patsy Reddy.
The Battle of Beersheba, in what is today southern Israel, pitted the ANZAC and the British Army against Ottoman troops in a struggle for control of a strategic crossroads.
In the battle on October 31, 1917, Australia’s 4th Light Horse regiment staged an audacious frontal assault on Ottoman trenches.
The event was marked Tuesday with a 100-horse parade in Beersheba by volunteer Australian riders in period uniform, a reenactment of the charge and a memorial ceremony at the city’s Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.
Netanyahu hailed the battle as eventually helping lead to the creation of the state of Israel.