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  • רהט
  • رهط
Rahat Aerial View.jpg
Official logo of Rahat
Coat of arms
Rahat is located in Israel
Coordinates: 31°23′33″N 34°45′16″E / 31.39250°N 34.75444°E / 31.39250; 34.75444Coordinates: 31°23′33″N 34°45′16″E / 31.39250°N 34.75444°E / 31.39250; 34.75444
 • TypeCity (from 1994)
 • MayorTalal Alkernawi
 • Total19,586 dunams (19.586 km2 or 7.562 sq mi)
 • Total66,791
 • Density3,400/km2 (8,800/sq mi)
Name meaningCalm, comfort

Rahat (Hebrew: רַהַט‬, Arabic: رهط‎) is a predominantly Bedouin city in the Southern District of Israel. In 2017 it had a population of 66,791.[1] As such, it is the largest Bedouin city in the world, and the only one in Israel to have city status.

Rahat is one of seven Bedouin townships in the Negev desert with approved plans and developed infrastructure (the other six are Hura, Tel as-Sabi (Tel Sheva), Ar'arat an-Naqab (Ar'ara BaNegev), Lakiya, Kuseife (Kseife) and Shaqib al-Salam (Segev Shalom).[2]

Meaning of the name[edit]

In Arabic, "rahat" means "group" or "groups" (it is also a Muslim name used mostly for males). In Aramaic, "rahat" means "run". In Hebrew, "rahat" means "trough".


The city has a total of 33 neighborhoods. All but one of the neighborhoods consist entirely of separate Bedouin clans, but one is a mixed-clan neighborhood. Between each neighborhood there is a wadi. The city also has a market, public and commercial services, neighborhood parks, public areas, women's employment centers, children's play areas, and several mosques.[3][4]


Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
Source: [5]

According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in 2001 the ethnic make-up of the city was almost completely Arab Bedouin, without a significant Jewish population (see also: Population groups in Israel), making it the largest Bedouin settlement in Israel. Members of several Bedouin family clans reside in Rahat: Al-Qrenawi, Tarabin, Al-Huzeil, Al-Tayaha, Al-Azazma, Al-Jubur, Al-Tawarah, Howeitat, AbuZayed etc. Rahat's society is considered a young one, as more than half of its residents are under the age of 18.[6]

According to the CBS, in 2001 there were 16,300 males and 16,100 females. The population of the city was spread out, with 65.2% 19 years of age or younger, 15.8% between 20 and 29, 12.0% between 30 and 44, 4.7% from 45 to 59, 0.9% from 60 to 64, and 1.4% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate in 2001 was 5.9%. Also according to the CBS, at the end of 2010 there were 26,700 males and 26,400 females. Some 60.4% of Rahat's population were 19 years old or younger, 15.4% between 20 and 29, 15.3% between 30 and 44, 5.9% from 45 to 59, 1% from 60 to 64, and 2% 65 years of age or older. The population growth rate has decreased significantly to 2.7%.[7]

According to city's mayor the city is home to an estimated 7,000 illegal immigrants at any given time.[8]


Archaeological site on a hill in Rahat's soda plant area dated back 1,700 years. The photo shows stone walls that supported the roof of an ancient building 200 meters long and 50 meters wide (buried under the soil).
Rahat City

The region of the city formerly owned by Al-Tayaha tribe (Al-Hezeel clan). Until the year 1972 the town was called "Al-Hezeel" (Arabic: الهزيل‎) before changing its name. In 1972 Rahat was considered by the government of Israel as a new settlement for Bedouin who lived in the surrounding area without permanent domicile. Until 1980, Rahat was part of the Bnei Shimon Regional Council and from then on (until 1994) it was a local council (administered by a private board until 1989). In 1994 it was recognized as a city – the first Bedouin city in Israel.

Present day[edit]

Bedouin women from Rahat hold up posters in favor of the Israeli-Arab peace process, 1995

The process of sedentarization is full of hardships for any nation, since it means a shift from one way of life to another – a transition from wandering to permanent residence, and Bedouin whose society is based on tradition are no exception. As a result of rapid and unexpected changes of the social infrastructure, Bedouin faced many difficulties, primarily related to the integration issues.

The rate of unemployment remains high in Bedouin townships, as well as the crime level.[9] School through age 16 is mandatory by law, but the vast majority of the population does not receive a high school education. Women are discriminated against in the patriarchal-type Bedouin society.[10] There is another serious problem of trespassing on state lands and building of unrecognized Bedouin settlements, which have no municipal status and face demolition orders.[11]

Rahat is one of several flagship projects aimed at improving life for the Negev Bedouin. Unlike illegal villages with scarce access to water, electricity and other services, this city provides the residents with all their basic needs. Nevertheless, in December 2009, the town was ranked low (1 out of 10) in socio-economic standing. Only 46.4% of grade twelve students are eligible to graduate from high school.


The township is situated close to Beersheva so its economy is related to that of the city. There is an industrial park in the suburbs of Rahat[12], and another new park was founded on 2015 called Idan haNegev.[13] Several more industrial parks are situated in the area - Beersheba and Hura. Residents also work in the services industry in Beersheba. There are several organizations that promote entrepreneurship among the 210,000 Bedouin living in the Negev,[14] primarily aimed at Bedouin women. One of them is Maof, and another one focused on finding jobs is called Rian.

In 2005 the city was one of the first to be connected to the WiMAX network.[15]

In 2007 the Center for Jewish-Arab economic development initiated an entrepreneurship and employment project for Rahat residents. Approximately 40 Bedouin women took part in it and received training in job search, computer skills and business management. Twelve of them have launched their own businesses (shops, clothing, hairdressing, restaurant and catering, sewing).[16]

In 2009 the city was unable to pay its water fees and the water supply was disconnected for five hours.[17] Today Rahat has a water company that is in charge of supplying water and taking care of the sewers.[18]


According to the CBS, as of 2009 the average income in Rahat was ILS 3,961 (compared to the average national income of 7,070). In 2000 the mean monthly wage for a salaried worker in the city was ILS 3,008, a real change of -0.8% over the course of 2000. Salaried males had a mean monthly wage of ILS 3,502 (a real change of 0.1%) versus ILS 1,394 for females (a real change of -10.7%). The mean income for the self-employed was 5,198. There were 277 residents who received government welfare, and 10,906 people who received an income guarantee. In 2000 in the city there were 3,983 salaried workers and 437 are self-employed.

Tax collection[edit]

Due to a low tax collection rate in the Israeli Arab sector,[19] cities lost tax revenue. Residential Tax income is dispersed that 2.5% come from the Arab Sector and 97.5% from the Jewish sector.[19] From within the Arab sector 14.5% of the taxpayers provided the 1.6% of the revenue (Jewish sector gave the remaining 98.4%). In a 2012 study by Dr Rafik Haj from the Dirasat Institute it said it is widely believed that up until 2005 tax collection in the Arab sector was less than 19% in contrast to 53% in the Jewish sector[20]

In a 2008 study by Dr Rafik Haj from the Dirasat Institute it was found that for the same economic level 79% of Jewish residents paid property taxes, in comparison to 16% in the Arab sector.[21]

In 2002 Rahat had the lowest Arnona tax in the country.[22]

In 2006 Rahat was able to collect 59% of Arnona taxes,[23] making it the Arab city with the highest tax collection rate for the Arabic population for that year.[23]

In 2012 Rahat increased tax collection to 71%.[24] In 2013 Rahat was collecting tax from its residents and also got 44% of a nearby industrial park.[25]

Rahat Central Park
Swimming Pool Rahat

In 2014 the rate of unemployment was 34%, and in 2017 it is 14%[26]mostly thanks to the new industrial park Idan Hanegev.


Playground in Rahat

There are a number of organizations carrying out different activities aimed at supporting and facilitating entrepreneurship in Israel's South in order to further integrate the 210,000 Bedouin living in the Negev into Israel's mainstream economy.[14] They are primarily aimed at Bedouin women.

Twenty Arab-Bedouin women from the towns of Rahat, Lakiya, Tel Sheva, Segev Shalom, Kuseife and Rachma participated in a sewing course for fashion design at the Amal College in Beer Sheva, including lessons on sewing and cutting, personal empowerment and business initiatives.[27]

There is a volunteer program to teach English to the Bedouin schoolchildren of Rahat.[28]

Social and Environmental Leadership Program was established in Rahat in the mid-2000s, initiated by young local residents.[6]

Higher education[edit]

Since the city of Beersheva is in close proximity to Rahat, most Bedouin students from Rahat study at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, some also at Sapir Academic College in Sderot. Soon a new Harvard University campus will be established in Rahat - inside Idan HaNegev Industrial Park. It will be the first campus built in this Bedouin city.[29] Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will oversee the new campus' operations, and it will be considered a BGU branch.

Health and public facilities[edit]

Rahat as a city has a number of public services, including medical services, schooling, labor, shopping, etc. There are branches of several health funds (medical clinics) in Rahat: Leumit, Clalit, Maccabi and several perinatal (baby care) centers Tipat Halav. In 2004 a new police station was opened, and has around 70 staff policemen. There is a community center in Rahat with a number of clubs for youth.


Rahat is known to be a center of authentic food tourism and the city gets full with tourists from Israel and abroad especially in the Ramadan period. Most of the tourists like to be hosted in houses around rahat where the lady owner of the house cooks traditional Bedouin food and tells stories about the Bedouin culture.[30]


In June 2007 a new Lehavim-Rahat Railway Station was opened. It serves both the Bedouin community of Rahat and the suburbs of Lehavim. It made it more accessible for the local residents to work and study in Beer Sheba and other parts of the country.

There are buses operated by the Galim and Dan BaDarom bus companies.[31] For a long period of time there were only private transit buses in the city, but in 2009 the bus transportation system was substantially improved and larger, national bus companies started to enter the city.[32]

Outstanding representatives of the community[edit]

  • Talal Alkernawi, Rahat Mayor
  • Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin imprisoned by Egypt for illegal border crossing[33]
  • Dr. Alean Al-Krenawi, PhD, is Dean and Professor at Memorial University's School of Social Work and a former chair of the Spitzer Department of Social Work at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel.[34]
  • Suleiman Al-Shafhe, a journalist, in the past a Channel 2 reporter covering the Palestinian issues[35]
  • Ahmed Alansasra, an artist[36]
  • Kamla Abu Zeila, a Bedouin female filmmaker creating socially aware documentaries[37][38]
  • Yusra Abu-Kaff, a Bedouin filmmaker[38][39]
  • Mai Alfrawna, a filmmaker[38]
  • Morad Alfrawna, a filmmaker from Rahat, took part in the "Back and Forth" cinematic project[38]
  • Ahmad Amrani, one of the leaders of the Green movement. In 2002, established “Green Rahat,” the first environmental organization in Rahat to deal with the city’s environmental problems.[40]
  • jamal Alkirnawi, Founder and leader of A new dawn in the negev which is providing education programme and help for Bedouin youth-at-risk. [41]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "List of localities, in Alphabetical order" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved August 26, 2018.
  2. ^ State of Israel. Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. List of Issues to be taken up in Connection with the Consideration of Israel's Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of Israel (CEDAW/C/ISR/4 and CEDAW/C/ISR/5) Archived 2013-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ The Bedouin of the Negev
  4. ^ "A Bedouin welcome". ynet. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  5. ^ "CBS. Statistical Abstract of Israel 2017. Population and Density per Sq. Km. in Localities Numbering 5,000 Residents and More on 31.12.2016" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics.
  6. ^ a b Environmental Education in Rahat
  7. ^ Rahat, city profile Central Bureau of Statistic (in Hebrew)
  8. ^ "מעריב - השאלה הבדואית: הגיע הזמן שהמדינה תחליט על מדיניות כלפי אזרחיה בנגב". מעריב אונליין Maariv Online. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Jewish National Fund". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  10. ^ Sarab Abu-Rabia-Queder. The activism of Bedouin women: Social and political resistance Ben Gurion University
  11. ^ Bedouins in the State of Israel Knesset official site
  12. ^ Idan Hanegev Industrial Park
  13. ^ "Rahat industrial zone". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  14. ^ a b Noreen Sadik. "Israel's Bedouin population faces mass eviction -- New Internationalist". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  15. ^ "בזק החלה בניסוי ברהט בטכנולוגיית WiMax". וואלה! חדשות. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  16. ^ Bedouin projects. Rahat Archived 2013-10-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ "ynet רהט נותקה ממים: אנחנו במדבר ב-40 מעלות חום - חדשות". ynet. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  18. ^ "תאגיד מי רהט | هيئة مياه رهط". site275383.webydo.com. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  19. ^ a b https://www.knesset.gov.il/mmm/data/pdf/m02613.pdf
  20. ^ ההיענות לתשלום מסים עירוניים בחברה הערבית בישראל כמקרה בוחן של ההשתתפות בפעולה קולקטיבית, page 286, Dr. Rafik Haj,2012
  21. ^ "ערביי ישראל לא מאמינים בתשלום ארנונה". TheMarker. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  22. ^ "הארנונה היקרה ביותר - במועצה אזורית תמר". וואלה! חדשות. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  23. ^ a b "הרשויות הערביות לא מאמינות בשוויון בחובות". TheMarker. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  24. ^ "D&B: גביית הארנונה במודיעין הגבוהה בארץ; באיזו עיר הכי מסוכן לפתוח עסק?". Bizportal. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  25. ^ http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/517/061.html
  26. ^ "תמונת מצב חברתית 2016: השכר עולה – אך לא מדביק את הגידול בצמיחה". מרכז אדוה. 2017-01-15. Retrieved 2017-07-08.
  27. ^ Economic Empowerment. Arab-Bedouin Fashion Design Archived 2013-10-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ Mary Ann Lewis. On the volunteering program in Rahat
  29. ^ "Harvard University makes aliyah". ynet. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  30. ^ "Israelis Play Tourists in a Bedouin Town in the Negev". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  31. ^ "אוטובוסים רהט - רשימת קווים שעוברים ברהט". אוטובוסים. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  32. ^ CoMedia Group LTD. "Yedid website". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  33. ^ "Report: Prisoner swap deal involving Ouda Tarabin to be signed Saturday". ynet. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  34. ^ "School of Social Work - Dr. Alean Al-Krenawi". Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  35. ^ "Reports From a Tightrope". latimes. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  36. ^ Information Center for Israeli art. Ahmed Alansasra
  37. ^ "Israeli film maker helps put Bedouin woman behind the camera". Israel21c. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  38. ^ a b c d Back and Forth. About the film A cinematic project by Uri Rosenwaks
  39. ^ Daniella Cheslow. Getting behind the camera The Jerusalem Report
  40. ^ "אתר מוקדי שירות לקוחות של חברות הצריכה לשירותך". - טלפון מוקד שירות. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  41. ^ https://www.jpost.com/Metro/Dawn-of-a-new-day-489768
  42. ^ https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Jews-and-Arabs-study-hi-tech-together-in-Yeroham-564752

External links[edit]