In an unusual move, the Samaria Regional Council decided to "adopt" a soldier who fell during the War of Independence in 1948 and has no family to keep his memory alive.
Baruch Mizrahi,was a fighter in the Etzel, the pre-state military underground also known as the Irgun, who was born as a Muslim and converted to Judaism after he became acquainted with the Beitar movement, Zionism and the Jewish faith.
Next Sunday, April 30th, the Samaria Regional Council, together with the Samaria Tourism and Education Center and the Beitar Movement, will hold a memorial ceremony for Mizrahi in the Netanya military cemetery where he was buried.
Baruch Mizrahi was born Hamuda Abu al-Aynin, son of Mahmoud and Fatima, and hailed from a well-known Muslim nationalist family from Safed. After being exposed to Betar (the Zionist revisionist youth movement founded by Zev Jabotinsky) activities near his home, Hamuda approached Judaism and Zionism, and after he converted he changes his name to Baruch Mizrahi. He then joined the Betar movement and later joined the Irgun.
Following a beating of British sergeants in which he participated, Baruch Mizrahi was caught and deported along with hundreds of Irgun and Lehi (organization that split from the Irgun, founded by Avraham Stern Hy"d) fighters to a detention camp in Eritrea, Africa.
In 1946, an argument broke out between the Sudanese guards and the imprisoned Jews. The guards shot at them. Two were murdered and Baruch Mizrahi suffered serious wounds. The event aroused a great uproar in the Jewish world and was followed by a visit by Chief Rabbi Herzog, who also visited Baruch Mizrahi, .
Asked by the rabbi what he could do to help, Mizrahi asked that if he died, he would be brought to Israel for burial. In the end, Mizrahi returned to Israel, recovered from his wounds and returned to his underground operations, until one from which he did not return.
On the way to collect intelligence in Jenin, he was arrested and killed near the village of Sa-Nur. After many years during which they did not know what happened to him, his friends went to search for his body. In 1968 he was brought to be buried in the Netanya military cemetery, at a military ceremony in the presence of Menachem Begin, the former leader of the Irgun and later Israel's prime minister.
At first, the Jewish community of Sa-Nur, which was evacuated during the disengagement from Gaza and northern Samaria, adopted his memory. Three years ago, the Samaria Regional Council, headed by Yossi Dagan, who was expelled from Sa-Nur himself, chose to adopt the memory of Baruch Mizrahi as well.
"This decision stems mainly from the great respect we have for our soldiers," explained Dagan. "It is unthinkable for a soldier to have given his life, and not only his life in this case, but also his continuity, with no one to remember him.
"For us, Baruch Mizrahi symbolizes our commitment to this land. He did not succeed in raising a family, and we took on this role of commemorating him and what he stood for."