Tel as-Sabi

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Tel Sheva redirects here. For the UNESCO World Heritage Site see Tel Be'er Sheva
Tel as-Sabi
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • Hebrew תֵּל שֶׁבַע
Arabic transcription(s)
 • Arabic تل السبع
View of Tel as-Sabi from Tel Be'er Sheva
View of Tel as-Sabi from Tel Be'er Sheva
Tel as-Sabi is located in Israel
Tel as-Sabi
Tel as-Sabi
Location of Tel as-Sabi in Israel
Coordinates: 31°14′48.12″N 34°51′21.96″E / 31.2467000°N 34.8561000°E / 31.2467000; 34.8561000Coordinates: 31°14′48.12″N 34°51′21.96″E / 31.2467000°N 34.8561000°E / 31.2467000; 34.8561000
District Southern
Founded 1967
 • Type Local council
 • Head of Municipality Musa Abu Isa[1]
 • Total 5,000 dunams (5 km2 or 2 sq mi)
Population (2010)
 • Total 15,700

Tel as-Sabi or Tel Sheva (Arabic: تل السبع‎, Hebrew: תֵּל שֶׁבַע) is a Bedouin town (local council) in the Southern District of Israel, bordering Beersheba.

Tel as-Sabi, the first Bedouin township in Israel, was founded in 1967[2] as part of a government project to settle Bedouins in permanent settlements and became a local council in 1984. It is one of seven Bedouin townships in the Negev desert with approved plans and developed infrastructure. [3]


Prior to the establishment of Israel, the Negev Bedouins were a semi-nomadic society that had been through a process of sedentariness since the Ottoman rule of the region. Most researches agree that Bedouins arrived to the Negev around 1800 AD, but there is evidence of earlier migrations as well.[4]

During the British Mandate period, the administration did not provide a legal frame to justify and preserve lands’ ownership. In order to settle this issue, Israel’s land policy was adapted to a large extent from the Ottoman land regulations of 1858 as the only preceding legal frame. Thus Israel nationalized most of the Negev lands using the state’s land regulations from 1969.[4]

Israel has continued the policy of sedentarization of Negev Bedouins imposed by the Ottoman authorities, and at first it included regulation and re-location - during the 1950s Israel has re-located two-thirds of the Negev Bedouins into an area that was under a martial law.[4] The next step was to establish seven townships built especially for Bedouins in order to sedentarize and urbanize them by offering them better life conditions, proper infrastructure and high quality public services in sanitation, health and education, and municipal services. The townships are Hura, Lakiya, Ar'arat an-Naqab (Ar'ara BaNegev), Shaqib al-Salam (Segev Shalom), Kuseife (Kseife) and the city of Rahat, the largest among them.

But not all Bedouins agree to move from tents and structures built on the state lands into apartments prepared for them. In permanent planned villages like Tel as-Sabi lives about 60% of Bedouin citizens of Israel, while the rest in illegal homes spread all over North Negev.[5]

Since Tel as-Sabi was the first Bedouin township in Israel, many mistakes made by planners and government officials.[2] The authorities tried to learn from this while planning and building new Bedouin villages and towns. For example, creating an urban environment rather than a rural locality.[2] As of 2000, the town has been ranked lowest (1 out of 10) in socio-economic standing, with an average income of 3,237 shekels to the national average's of 6,835. Only 43% of grade twelve students are eligible to graduate from high school.


According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the population of Tel as-Sabi was 15,700 in December 2010[6] (13,000 in December 2005). Tel as-Sabi's jurisdiction is 5,000 dunams (5 km²).


Despite the fact that unemployment level among Negev Bedouins is high, there are several employment opportunities in the region. Several industrial parks are situated in the area - Ramat Hovav, Hura, but the closest industrial zone to Tel as-Sabi is situated in Beersheba. There are several organizations carrying out different activities aimed at supporting and expanding entrepreneurship in Israel's South in order to further integrate the 160,000 Bedouins living in the Negev into Israel's mainstream economy. They are primarily aimed at Bedouin women.

Twenty Arab-Bedouin women participated in a sewing course for fashion design at the Amal College in Beer Sheva, including lessons on sewing and cutting, personal empowerment and business initiatives.[7]A number of Bedouin women have undergone professional botanical training and established a business producing a range of unique skin care products based on traditional Bedouin herbal medicine.[8] Their products include cosmetic and dermatological lotions, creams and ointments.[9] Their products are manufactured at the laboratories of Hlavin, an international cosmetics manufacturer and exporter in Ra’anana.[10]


There is a number of schools in the township and a communal activity center.


In Tel as-Sabi there is a football team called HaPoel Tel Sheva, it is a member of the Israel Football Association.[11]

Notable residents[edit]

  • Maryam Abu-Ghanem, the first female sports teacher in the Bedouin community[12]
  • Mariam Abu Rakeek, entrepreneur, a founder of Bat HaMidbar (Desert Daughter), a home-based venture producing oils, lotions, and herbs[13] She was the first Israeli Bedouin woman to study abroad.[14]
  • Sana Elbaz, the head of the first of its kind daycare center in the Bedouin sector, who had led a revolutionary educational program and brought about changes in the Bedouin society, she lit a celebratory torch at Israel's 60th anniversary ceremony in Jerusalem.[15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Lands of the Negev, a short film presented by Israel Land Administration describing the challenges faced in providing land management and infrastructure to the Bedouins in Israel's southern Negev region