Between the Negev’s spectral scrub, you may find dry riverbeds that once infiltrated the desert and have since evaporated into shallow, salty traces. Bedouin say they can predict rain by looking at the stars at night. On average, in the Negev, they should expect only 200mm per year.
More water in the desert is hidden under rock dunes in flat areas, which protect from evaporation. Thanks to these stones molded by centuries of wind erosion, a little liquid is preserved underground. But when the wind blows faster than usual, these underground aquifers may be trapped and hidden by rising piles of sand. If you can find one before the wind does, consider yourself an official expert of the Negev.
David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, used to live in the kibbutz Sde Boker, here in the Negev, and wanted “this land to bloom.” Today the Jewish National Fund still plants trees in the desert to nationalize the land. So-called “green Zionism” is seen as a way to force the Bedouin into settling in cities like Beer’sheva, the “the city of tents”. Those who don’t move are in a tight spot- the first places the Jewish National Fund claimed as its own were all the places in the Negev with water. Today, the Fund owns 13% of all the land in Israel, and only Jews may buy, mortgage or lease it.
Photography: Michela A. G. Iaccarino
Lettering: Gastón Lisak