In Beersheba reenactment, dignitaries treated to Maori war cry
Desert Haka

In Beersheba reenactment, dignitaries treated to Maori war cry

Dozens of ANZAC reenacters perform traditional haka dance at event marking centennial of victory over Ottoman Empire

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.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (C), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), and New Zealand Governor General Patsy Reddy (L) lay wreaths at the memorial for the fallen in the Battle of Beersheba during a ceremony in the British Cemetery in Beersheba on October 31, 2017, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. (AFP PHOTO / POOL / JIM HOLLANDER)

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.

History enthusiasts and descendants of Australian Mounted Division and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division) Mounted Division soldiers ride their horses during rehearsal of the reenactment of the Battle of Beersheba when British and ANZAC forces captured Beersheba from the Ottoman Empire during the World War I, as part of the 100 years anniversary in near Beersheba, southern Israel, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

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.

Members of the Australian Light Horse association ride towards Beer-Sheva in the northern Israeli desert on October 30, 2017 during a reenactment of the historical fight of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Mounted Division) where forces captured the area from the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. (AFP PHOTO / MENAHEM KAHANA)

Netanyahu hailed the battle as eventually helping lead to the creation of the state of Israel.

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