The Negev desert is the southernmost region of Israel occupying a great portion of the whole country. It stretches from the coastal plains on the west and the Judean Mountains on the East, all the way south to Eilat Israel on the shores of the Red Sea.
In Hebrew, the word Negev comes from the root of the word dry. It is a correct name, since it has an arid and semiarid climate. The annual rainfall is very low and the vegetation is according to the temperatures and dryness of the desert.
The landscapes of the Negev Desert are a surprise to the visitors
There are several areas in which the Negev Desert is divided
The Sapir Park on the Arava Valley on the way to Eilat
Ben Gurion's Dream
Now you see why Israel has become a world leader in desert irrigation and cultivation. Many techniques have been introduced worldwide.
Comes to mind the irrigation by dripping that saves water and goes direct to the area that wants to be cultivated. David Ben Gurion, the father of the country, Israel’s first Prime Minister had a dream that the Negev will be fully populated.
Even though he himself set the example by moving to Sde Boker in the Negev with his wife Paula, the Negev is still barely populated. There is a trend now to go and live in the Negev. The possibilities of young and retired couples to live with a lower budget are much higher than those in the Central regions of Israel.
The Negev Foundation actively promotes any new developments in agricultural in order to promote new settlement in the Negev.
Not all is dry here. In the spring you may see this field of Kalaniot
The Makhteshim – Crater like formations
The renowned Machtesh Ramon Crater a unique natural formation
What used to be nomadic tribes through millennia are starting to be less nomadic and settle in permanent villages and small towns.
In Israel’s Negev the examples are Rahat, the largest Bedouins settlement in Israel and the only one considered a city; Tel As Sabi founded in 1968 as part of the government’s efforts to settle the Bedouins in towns and Lakiya, home of the Lakiya Waiving Rugs.
The Bedouins are Israeli citizens and many serve in the army. A pre-arranged visit to one of the Bedouins settlements is an unforgettable experience.
Hospitality and welcoming visitors is part of their culture. The visit may include having coffee in their company and even meals and entertainment.
Israeli Bedouins of the Negev are an integral part of the State of Israel
Honoring those serving in the Israel Defense Forces
Beer Sheba, the Capital of the Negev Desert
This is one of the top ten cities in Israel. It is mentioned in the Bible since the times of Abraham. Today it’s a thriving city home to Ben Gurion University of the Negev and Soroka Medical Center.
The last two decades have seen an important growth of Beersheba due to flocks of immigrants mainly from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia. But Beer Sheba is actually a melting pot. As you walk the streets you may hear as many languages as in the Tower of Babel.
Eilat is becoming the main Riviera on the Red Sea
Everyone remembers the first trip to Eilat. After a long drive through the Negev desert and the Arava, when one finally sees the red mountains and the waters of the Red Sea it is such an unforgettable view.
But if it is summer and you come with an air conditioned vehicle, the moment you open the door is also unforgettable. The hot temperature of 40 C sometimes hits you as a slap in the face. Then you get used and you see that it was worth the drive or flight, because Eilat is just divine.
I hope that one day Ben Gurion’s dream will be fulfilled and the Negev Desert will be highly populated with lots of wild areas and many cities.
negev mountain by alon strasman
kalaniot field by yehuda elimelech
sapir park by avishai teicher
machtesh ramon by avi yotham
eilat beach by avishai teicher
israel bedouins by idf
All courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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Flowers in the Negev