On this interactive map, Who Profits highlights several ongoing developmental and military projects in their various stages of implementation, illustrating how Israel’s long-standing policies to Judaize and industrialize serve to dispossess the Naqab’s Palestinian Bedouin inhabitants.

Almost 300,000 Palestinian Bedouins live in the Naqab region, over 100,000 of whom live in 35 villages deemed illegal by Israel (hereafter: unrecognized villages), 31 of which pre-date the establishment of the Israeli state, whilst the remaining four were relocated there by Israeli military force during the 1948 Nakba. All unrecognized villages are slated for erasure and are systematically deprived of basic infrastructure and services to force residents to move to overcrowded and impoverished state-sanctioned Bedouin shanty towns and villages.

This logic shapes Israeli policy in the region and the everyday lives of Palestinian Bedouins, whoare subject to an aggressive policy of house demolition. Indeed, in 2020 alone Israel demolished 2,568 Palestinian homes and structures in unrecognized villages and recognized Bedouin residential areas – a 13% increase from the previous year.  Moreover, Israel has historically advanced economic, urban, infrastructure, and military projects at the expense of, and in disregard of Palestinian communities. The Israeli government has not shied away from positioning such enterprises as part of its colonial project. For example, industrial development contracts such as that for the development of the Tz’iporem Quarry was conditioned on the bidder committing to paving a road which would only be possible through the displacement of the unrecognized village of Al Baqar. Thus, carrying out population displacement on behalf of the Israeli state. Furthermore, in 2019 the Development and Settlement of the Bedouins in the Negev Authority, declared Israel’s intention to uproot at least 36,000 people to make way for national “economic development” projects, including those outlined on this map.

These come on the back of, and as a key part of the framework outlined in Resolution No. 4415 passed in 2005, representing the first comprehensive national development plan for the Naqab. The NIS 17 billion, 10-year strategic plan supplemented previously approved proposals in the framework of outline plans and the “Beersheba Metropolis” outline plan (DOP 4/14) and has since been supplemented by others. The plan lays out Israel’s prime objective in the Naqab – to increase the area’s Jewish population by creating favorable living conditions for that populace by utilizing the Naqab’s vast area for economic development and military expansion, while simultaneously concentrating the Naqab’s Palestinian communities into state-sanctioned Bedouin residential areas.

To this end, Israel has mobilized and incentivized the involvement of private capital. Companies have been contracted to lay transport infrastructure to facilitate the movement of people and capital. Companies have also been awarded major contracts to implement Israel’s plan to relocate military bases to the Naqab, with emphasis on establishing technological military campuses. As part of the military relocation plan outlined in Resolution No. 3976, passed in 2008, the “Move South Administration” was established under the Ministry of Defense. These projects include the Military Intelligence Campus and Elbit’s Ramat Beka special military industrial zone.

Furthermore, companies, particularly hi-tech companies, are aggressively incentivized to establish operational facilities in the southern city of Beer al’Saba (Be’er Sheva). The city has been designated as the future hub of Israel’s tech industry –cyber tech in particular. In 2014, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared that the city would be transformed into the “cyber center of the Western Hemisphere.” Amongst other incentives to lure cyber security companies and start-ups to the area, in 2015 the Israeli government passed Resolution No. 528; committing to pay up to 20% of the tech companies employees’ salaries if they operate from the region. In an age of economic neoliberal Zionism, tech workers mirror the Zionist movement’s early pioneers, implanted in the Naqab to set up Kibbutzim and agricultural farms.

The concept of modernization and “making the desert bloom” is a central pillar of the ideological underpinnings of the Israeli settler-colonial project in Palestine (Brenna Bhandar, 2018). For Israel, the presence of Palestinian Bedouins on their land is an impediment to sovereignty, modernity, and development. Thus, Israel relegated all of the Naqab’s Palestinian inhabitants to landless citizens, and those who remained steadfast on their land in unrecognized villages are classified as “criminals” and “trespassers” on state land (Human Rights Watch, 2008). This formed the legal basis for uprooting Palestinians from their lands and enshrining the “colonial view of Bedouins as nomads and of the Naqab as an empty land awaiting settlement and civilization” (Lana Tatour, 2019). Hence, when Palestinian Bedouins resist and assert their historical property rights, they are challenging the ideological basis of their dispossession.

In this interactive map, Who Profits outlines a number of ongoing developmental and military projects in the Naqab region. Where relevant, corporations complicit in these projects are noted. This map demonstrates how, when it comes to Israel, infrastructure, and development projects in the Naqab as well as in the rest of Palestine, serve as part of the ongoing dispossession and forced displacement of Palestinians.

This map will be updated regularly. All corporations mentioned, both Israeli and international, have been contacted before publication. Last updated: 28 November 2021