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NEGBAH (Heb. נֶגְבָּה; "toward the Negev"), kibbutz in southern Israel, 6 mi. (10 km.) E. of Ashkelon, affiliated with Kibbutz Arẓi Ha-Shomer ha-Ẓa'ir. Negbah was founded by pioneers from Poland as a *stockade and watchtower settlement in the last month of the Arab riots (July 1939) and constituted the country's southernmost Jewish village at the time. As the kibbutz' name indicates, its establishment was the first of a systematic effort to gain footholds in the south and Negev. Isolated among strong Arab villages, Negbah had to repulse attacks in the first days of its existence. In the Israeli *War of Independence (1948) the Egyptian army made all-out efforts to take the kibbutz. The settlers held out for six months in their entrenchments under continuous shelling, air bombardment, and tank attacks, after Egyptian forces occupied the nearby dominating Iraq Suweidān police fortress. The kibbutz was completely destroyed aboveground. The Egyptians, in violation of the local cease-fire agreement, interfered with the passage of Israeli convoys from Negbah to the Negev settlements and this led to the "Ten Plagues" Operation of the Israeli army (Oct. 15, 1948); a strong Egyptian pocket continued to hold Negbah under fire until the police fortress fell on Nov. 9. The kibbutz preserved its ruined water tower in memory of the battles, and erected a monument to the defenders in its cemetery. After 1948 Negbah developed a flourishing farming economy based on intensive field crops, citrus and other fruit orchards, and dairy cattle. It also established a sewing factory and a metal workshop. Its population in 1968 was 404. In the mid-1990s the population was approximately 665, dropping to 407 in 2002.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.