Sunday, June 19, 2016

Yatta, the Mahamra clan and a heritage of terrorism by Nadav Shragai

The terrorists from the Sarona shooting belong to the Mahamra clan, one of the biggest families in the Palestinian town of Yatta. The clan is actually descended from Jews and for generations kept some Jewish traditions. Now they have embraced terrorism.

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
17 June '16..

The Palestinian town of Yatta in the south Hebron Hills, the starting point for Khaled and Mohammed Mahamra's killing spree at the Sarona Market complex last week, was the first Arab community in Judea and Samaria to be connected to the water supply and electricity grid after the 1967 Six-Day War. The veteran members of the Civil Administration recall that Yatta was given that boon after town officials approached Israeli army officers a few months after the war, carrying an ancient gold Hannukah menorah and making a surprising claim: They, the Mahamra clan, were the descendants of an ancient Jewish tribe.

The Mahamras, one of the biggest clans in Yatta, who have produced a number of murderers and terrorist cells in recent years, still cling to their tradition that their roots are Jewish.

Historian Itzhak Ben-Zvi, who would later become Israel's second president, researched the history of the Mahamra clan about a year prior to the 1929 riots and was determined to have some foundation. Ben-Zvi visited the town accompanied by Yosef Mani, one of the elders from the Jewish community in Hebron.

Tsvi Misinai, who investigated the Jewish roots of some of the Palestinian population, also reached similar findings, as did a research delegation from Midreshet Hebron, which had visited the town earlier. For many years, many members of the Mahamra clan observed the circumcision rite, and the older women of the clan would light candles on the eve of the Shabbat.

But the fascinating history of the residents of the village, particularly the remains of an ancient synagogue located there, has not prevented the recent generations from becoming Israel's bitterest, most radicalized enemies. Today, the residents of Yatta see themselves as Muslims in every aspect and take an active part in the struggle against Israel. Eleven generations after their ancestor Mahimer and his tribe moved north from the desert in the 18th century and conquered the town, the extended family has been inculcated in incitement and terrorism, which as we know has become an integral part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And possibly because of their unique history, the residents of Yatta in general and the Mahamra clan in particular have become especially extremist in their animosity toward Jews and Israel.

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