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Yaron Ovadia's Articles – History, Lifestyle, and Changes


Dr. Yaron Ovadia’s research, published over the years, delves into various aspects of the extensive history of the Jahalin tribe in the Judean Desert. His studies encompass their distinctive way of life and the shifts that have occurred among the tribe in recent decades. In one of his articles, Dr. Ovadya sheds light on the long-standing presence of Bedouin tribes in the region. “Bedouin tribes inhabited the region of Israel as early as the middle of the Second Temple period, with the arrival of the Nabateans who established an extensive trade presence in the heart of the desert.... Over successive years, additional Bedouin tribes continued to arrive to the Land of Israel from the Arabian deserts. One of the earliest documented references to the presence of Bedouins in Israel is found in the accounts of Flavius Josephus, recounting a battle waged between the Nabateans – referred to as Arabs – and the Hasmoneans.

The article further elaborates that "Starting from the seventh century, Muslim Bedouin migrations began to penetrate the Land of Israel in waves, continuing to arrive until the 18th century.” In addition, according to Ovadia’s research, the formation of the present-day tribes residing in the region can be traced back as far as the 18th century. "Over the years, Bedouin tribes traversed the vast Land of Israel, engaging in internal conflicts, fragmentation, and alliances, which gradually shaped the composition of the tribes as we know them today." As far as the relations between the Jews and the Nabateans are concerned, Dr. Ovadya’s article “End of Migration” points to the existence of good trade relations, “as evidenced by archaeological findings discovered at various sites in the Judean Desert."


Ovadya’s research attests to the intense nomadic lifestyle of the Bedouin in the Judean Desert until the end of the 19th century. “Entire tribes wandered in search of grazing lands for their sheep and camels. During the winter months, they ventured into the heart of the desert, and in the summer, they ascended toward the western mountains, sometimes reaching the area of Hebron and Bethlehem.”


Many pilgrims documented this phenomenon, writing that “the Bedouins live in tents and travel with them from place to place." Among these pilgrims, Ovadia mentions Charles Leonard Irby, a British traveler who recounted his experience of residing in the encampment of the Jahalin tribe. “A few years later, the renowned American researcher Edward Robinson also traveled from the south of Mount Hebron toward the southeastern regions, encountering members of the Jahalin tribe who migrated according to the annual seasons and the cycles of agricultural cultivation.”


In another article by Ovadia titled "The Bedouins in the Judean Desert: A Disappearing World," he addresses the state's relationship with the Bedouins living in the country, and says that "Israeli leadership saw the nomads as a potential threat to the state’s security.” Moshe Dayan wrote the following in the Haaretz newspaper in 1963: “We need to transform the Bedouins into urban laborers... it will entail a revolutionary shift, though it can be accomplished over the course of two generations. Not by coercion, but with the guidance of the government. This reality called Bedouin - will disappear.”


Likewise, in the article "End of Migration" a depiction emerges of the State of Israel whose “executive arm in this regard was its security system, which endeavored to reshape the lifestyles of the Bedouins in the Judean Desert throughout the 70s.... The changes imposed by the authorities from above led not only to the cessation of Bedouin migrations but also to a dramatic shift in employment, residences, and relationships that were forged between the Bedouin tribes and their urban and rural neighbors."


According to the article, "The Bedouin society in the Judean Desert is currently a poor, marginalized society trying to survive in spite of the authorities, and not due to assistance from them. This is a society that holds Palestinian citizenship in an area where the Palestinian Authority cannot operate."

More books on the subject:


Books of Dr. Yaron Ovadia

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