Nitzana viewed from the south.
Nitzana (Hebrew: נִצָּנָה, ניצנה) is an educational youth village and communal settlement in the western Negev desert in Israel, adjacent to the Egyptian border. It is named for the nearby Nabataean city of Nitzana and gives its name to the Nitzana Border Crossing, formerly Auja al-Hafir.
This settlement was founded in 1986 by Aryeh Eliav, a former member of the Knesset for several left-wing parties, and today has a population of around 50 families. It is part of Ramat HaNegev Regional Council.
Nitzana was founded by the Nabataeans in the 3rd century BC. There are traces of a large first century BC building with a monumental staircase. The settlement was a trading post on the Elat to Gaza route. In the early 2nd century AD the emperor Hadrian diverted this trade from Elat to Damascus. Despite this loss Nitzana grew under Byzantine rule. In the late 3rd century AD the fort was enlarged with stables for horses and camels. In the 4th century a church was built attached to the north end of the fort. It was dedicated to SS Sergius and Baccus. In the 7th century a second church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built 60m south east of the fort.
The tax register for 587-9 AD indicates that the town had 1,500 inhabitants, with 116 houses. This was a time of prosperity with the route from Gaza to Elat reopened and pilgrim traffic to Saint Catherine's Monastery. A find of late Byzantine papyri has given much detail of the life of the town.
- June 18, 2012 : One Israeli killed in terrorist attack
- Nitzana (Nabataean city)
- Auja al-Hafir, former settlement
- Nitzanei Sinai, a nearby communal settlement.
- Murphy-O'Conner, Jerome (2008) The Holy Land. An Oxford Archaeological Guide (5th edition), Oxford University Press. ISBN 978 0 19 923666 4. Pages 430-432.