An August 1960 brief by the Military Governor for the Negev region traces Israel’s policy toward the local Bedouin population in Mount Negev area. The document reviews the relationship between Israeli intelligence and military government and sub-groups of the Azazma tribe, collectively referred to as “the Sarahins”: from the repeated efforts to use them for the benefit of Israeli military intelligence to the efforts to deport them from the area by punitive actions and expulsions.

The brief highlights the policies vis-à-vis these tribal groups collectively referred to as “the Sarahins”; the repeated efforts to use them for the benefit of Israeli military intelligence, and the attempts to deport them from the area by means of collective punishment, expulsions and assigned residency, as well as cutting them off from other branches of their tribes.

The brief includes, among other matters, a description of the September 1959 Operation Hagar for the expulsion of most Bedouin from Mount Negev. Operation Hagar, in which five Bedouins were reportedly killed, was portrayed as a retaliatory step for the killing of the commander of an elite commando unit, Yair Peled, near Israeli kibbutz Sde Boker earlier that month. However, as described in the document, Operation Hagar was aimed at rectifying the results of a previous expulsion (Operation Be’ur Hametz), which failed to stop Bedouin from venturing beyond the area the Military Government had assigned for them or put an end to theft and arms trafficking by some in the community. According to the document, Operation Hagar included “issuance of warning, searches, selection and expulsion from the area into the Sinai Desert while setting fire to tents and confiscating livestock” belonging to the Bedouin in the area.


Negev Military Government

A Brief on Mount Negev

25 August 1960