MIẒPEH RAMON (Heb. מִצְפֶּה רָמוֹן), development town in S. Israel, in the Negev Hills, 54 mi. (87 km.) S. of Beersheba toward Eilat. Founded in 1954, initially as a labor camp of the workers employed in the construction of the highway, it became an "urban cooperative," and when this dispersed seven months later, it was turned into a development town. At the beginning conditions were extremely hard; water had to be brought in trucks from the north, and communications were frequently cut off when the highway to the north was blocked by floods. In spite of these difficulties the town absorbed new immigrants from North Africa and Europe and in 1968 had a population of 1,470. In 1964 Miẓpeh Ramon received municipal council status and in 2002 its population was 4,820, occupying an area of 33 sq. mi. (86 sq. km.).
Although servicing the central Negev, the opening of the Sedom-Eilat road increased its isolation and contributed to the town's high unemployment rate and low personal income, though efforts have been made to develop tourism. In recent years, artists from all over the country have established their residence there, and Israel's largest observatory, belonging to Tel Aviv University, is located in the town. The name means "Ramon Lookout" and refers to the town's site on the rim of the Ramon Crater, which affords a remarkable view of Negev desert landscape.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.