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Since the early 1970s, due to the limitations imposed by The Israel Nature and Parks Authority, the repurposing of large swats of land for military training by the Israel Defense Forces and the availability of water sources, these communities settled at several locations along Road 40, between the Ben-Gurion College and Mitzpe Ramon.
Most of these settlements, however, are not recognized by the State of Israel, and, while reluctantly tolerated, are defined as illegal by the rule of law. It should be noted that this phenomenon is rampant throughout the Negev desert. In total, some 150,000 Bedouins live in unrecognized settlements throughout the Negev at large.
The Bedouins’ traditional way of life is inexorably tied to their immediate, unique natural environment.
While their current living conditions have become more sedentary, the collective knowledge and legacy of their traditions and way of life are preserved. This is expressed by their expertise in raising livestock, the preservation of traditional handcrafts and artforms, an intimate knowledge of the local flora, in particular of the herbs and medicinal plants that are found in the vicinity. Also, throughout their history and presence in the region, they have demonstrated their keen understanding of what we now call the local “micro-climate,” i.e., the quality and potential of the soil and its water economy. This collective knowledge and experience place these Bedouin communities at the center of any efforts to this environment, while at the same preserving and sustaining it.
Historically, the Bedouins’ way of life, traditions, and knowledge are rooted in the ancient semi-nomadic communities that have roamed and inhabited these areas for many centuries. As such, rooted as they are in the region, they are an important resource for the development of local tourism.
As part of this project, Keshet represents, legal and planning wise, two of the Bedouin communities of the Negev Highlands.
The Desert Stars project came into being after 2010. It was initiated by a group of Bedouin and Jewish businessmen