Historical and anecdotal evidence strongly suggests a connection, but definitive scientific proof has never been found.
Some leading Israeli anthropologists believe that, of all the many groups in the world who claim a connection to the 10 lost tribes, the Pashtuns, or Pathans, have the most compelling case.
Now, according to a report in The Observer, Shahnaz Ali, from the National Institute of Immunohaematology in Mumbai, India, has collected blood samples from members of the Afridi tribe of Pashtuns who today live in Malihabad, near Lucknow, in order to find a linkage between them and the lost tribes of Israel.
Shahnaz will spend several months studying her findings at Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa.
The Assyrians conquered the kingdom of Israel some 2,730 years ago, scattering 10 of the 12 tribes into exile, supposedly beyond the mythical Sambation River.
The two remaining tribes, Benjamin and Judah, became the modern-day Jewish people, according to Jewish history, and the search for the lost tribes has continued ever since.
Some have claimed to have found traces of them in modern day China, Burma, Nigeria, Central Asia, Ethiopia and even in the West.
But it is believed that the tribes were dispersed in an area around modern-day northern Iraq and Afghanistan, which makes the Pashtun connection the strongest.
"Of all the groups, there is more convincing evidence about the Pathans than anybody else, but the Pathans are the ones who would reject Israel most ferociously. That is the sweet irony," said Shalva Weil, an anthropologist and senior researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"The theory has been a matter of curiosity since long ago, and now I hope a scientific analysis will provide us with some answers about the Israelite origin of Afridi Pathans. We still don't know what the truth is, but efforts will certainly give us a direction," said Ali.
According to Navras Aafreedi, an academic at Lucknow University, himself a Pashtun from the Afridi tribe, "Pathans, or Pashtuns, are the only people in the world whose probable descent from the lost tribes of Israel finds mention in a number of texts from the 10th century to the present day, written by Jewish, Christian and Muslim scholars alike, both religious as well as secularists." (ANI)