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6 Soldiers From India’s ‘Lost Tribe’ Join Israeli Army Together

Six soldiers from the “Bnei Menashe” community in northeastern India have joined an Israeli army unit together. They were inducted into the IDF in a ceremony this month. The “Bnei Menashe” community, which has a population of 10,000 worldwide, claims to be directly descended from the “lost tribe” of Menashe, one of the original 12 tribes of Israel.

“My family’s dream was always to immigrate to Israel and build our future there, and my private dream was always to serve as a soldier in the IDF,” Binyamin Tungnung, now a private in the IDF, said during his induction ceremony. “I am very happy that I have been able to realize my dream in full.”

The “Bnei Menashe” claim that they are one of the ten tribes of Israel that were exiled after the Assyrian conquest of Israel in the 7th century BCE. Genetic testing has not confirmed that “Bnei Menashe” have Middle Eastern ancestry.

There are 3,000 “Bnei Menashe” who live in Israel. Haaretz reported that many struggle with employment, as they do not speak Hebrew well.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter @aefeldman.

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