Middle East

  • A protester holds a placard as another holds an Islamic movement flag during a demonstration to show their solidarity with Bedouin citizens, near the Bedouin townof Rahat in southern Israel August 1, 2013.
  • Palestinian protesters run as Israeli border policemen fire a stun grenade duringa demonstration to show solidarity with Bedouin citizens, near the West Bank village of Hizma, south-east of Ramallah August 1, 2013.
  • Israeli riot police fire tear gas at Israeli Arab and Palestinians activists during a protest against the Prawer Plan plan to resettle Israel’s Bedouin minority from their villages in the Negev Desert, in the village of Arara.
  • In this Wednesday, July 31, 2013 photo, a Bedouin walks through the Negev desert near the village of al-Sira, Israel. 
  • A general view of an unauthorized Bedouin village in the northern Negev Desert March 23, 2006.
  • Rahat, one of seven Israeli-built Bedouin cities in the Negev Desert.
  • Supermarket in the Bedouin city of Rahat
  • Unrecognized Bedouin Settlement in Israel's Negev Desert.
  • Unrecognized Bedouin Settlement in Israel's Negev Desert
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011 photo an Israeli Bedouin man drinks coffee in his village near the southern city of Beersheva,Israel.
  • Bedouin school girls ride a bus back home from Wadi El Naam regional school in the Negev Desert, southern Israel, Feb. 13, 2007. Wadi al Naam is one of dozens of Bedouin communities not recognized by Israel.
  • A Bedouin girl plays on a field near an unrecognized village in the northern Negev Desert March 23, 2006.
  • Bedouin men sit in a village known by Bedouin Arabs as al-Arakib, one of many ramshackle desert communities whose names have never appeared on any official map, November 2, 2011.
  • Bedouin tent near Israeli-built city of Rahat, ca. 1955
  • Market Day in the Negev city of Beersheva, 1954
  • Beersheva Market Place, January 18, 1940
  • Bedouin shiekhs at horse/camel race meet, Beersheva, May 4, 1940.
  • Unidentified Bedouin sheikh of Beersheva, June, 1938.
  • Well at Beersheva in the northern Negev Desert, 1930
  • Young Bedouin woman spinning wool, 1932.
  • Bedouins and British officers celebrating the end of the 1930 locust campaign at Beersheva. The first in a succession of swarms appeared in the Jordan valley at the end of October 1929. The extensive use of poison baits in the Beersheba area led to concerns that arsenic was being washed out by winter rains and contaminating cisterns used to collect rain water.
  • Bedouins watching camel races at celebrating marking end of locust campaign, June 30, 1930
  • Beersheva Bedouins, ca. 1930
  • Sheikh Hamed Al-Sane at Beersheva, ca. 1920 - 1933. The Bedouin were often exoticized, romanticized and sentimentalized by Europeans, as this portrait would suggest
  • Bedouin woman and children in tent near Beersheba, ca. 1920-1930. At the time--and up until the mid 20th Century, the Bedouin were known as the "Arabs of Beersheba (‘arab as-saba’). The Bedouins called themselves 'Arab'
  • Bedouins in marketplace, ca. 1905
  • Bedouin man, ca. 1905
  • Bedouin Sheikh M'salam ibn Said with the Turkish governor (Mutasarrif) of Jerusalem, Ali Akram (Ekram) Bey, at opening of Beersheba
  • Photo shows the official opening of Beersheba by the Ottoman Turkish government before World War I. By 1906, the town consisted of 50 buildings, including a mosque and a police station
  • Beersheva, c. 1900. The town was founded in 1900 by the Ottomans as an administrative center from which they could keep the Bedouin in check. The town quickly grew to be the 'capital' of the Negev. The Bedouin Sheiks of the region settled there--and began building with stone for the first time

The Bedouins of the Negev Desert, Looking Back Through the Years

Cecily Hilleary

Published August 06, 2013

Roughly 200,000 Bedouins live in the Negev Desert of Israel, all of them citizens and most of them concentrated in an area around the city of Beersheva. Granted Israeli citizenship in the 1950's, they lived under military rule until the 1960's and have since resisted government attempts to move them into seven larger, recognized towns. Thousands of Bedouin still live in dozens of unrecognized settlements across the northern Negev. If the Prawer-Begin law is passed by Israel's Knesset, as many as 40,000 Bedouins will be forcibly removed from their homes. A look back at the Bedouin presence in the Negev in photographs, 1900 to the present.


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