Negev

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Negev

(nĕg`ĕv) or

Negeb

(nĕg`ĕb) [Heb.,=dry], hilly desert region of S Israel, c.5,140 sq mi (13,310 sq km), bordered by the Judaean Hills, the Wadi Arabah, the Sinai peninsula, and the narrow Mediterranean coastal plain; it comprises more than one half of Israel's land area. The Negev receives c.2 to 4 in. (5–10 cm) of rain annually. In the Beersheba basin, NW Negev, there are fertile loess deposits, but the region's aridity prevented cultivation until irrigation was provided by the National Water Carrier Project, which taps the Sea of Galilee. The Negev region also has a good mineral potential; copper, phosphates, and natural gas are already commercially extracted. In ancient times there were several prosperous cities along the principal wadis (watercourses) of the area. In modern times the Negev was the scene of much fighting between Egyptian and Israeli forces after the partition of Palestine in 1948. Many kibbutzim (see collective farmcollective farm,
an agricultural production unit including a number of farm households or villages working together under state control. The description of the collective farm has varied with time and place.
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) are located in the Negev; dry farming has been attempted in some areas. The major cities in the region include BeershebaBeersheba
[Heb.,=seven wells or well of the oath], city (1994 pop. 147,900), S Israel, principal city of the Negev Desert. It is the trade center for surrounding settlements and for Bedouins, who hold a weekly market in Beersheba. Construction is the city's main industry.
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, DimonaDimona
[Heb.,=wasting], town (1994 pop. 30,400), S Israel, in the Negev Desert. It is the seat of the Negev Nuclear Research Center. Mining and the production of textiles, chemicals, and processed minerals are also important.
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, Arad, and ElatElat
or Eilat
[Heb.,=trees], city (1994 pop. 35,700), S Israel, a port on the Gulf of Aqaba, an arm of the Red Sea. It is strategically located near the Sinai peninsula, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia and is Israel's gateway to Africa and East Asia.
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.

Negev

, Negeb
the S part of Israel, on the Gulf of Aqaba: a triangular-shaped semidesert region, with large areas under irrigation; scene of fighting between Israeli and Egyptian forces in 1948. Chief town: Beersheba. Area: 12 820 sq. km (4950 sq. miles)