NIR AM (Heb. נִיר עָם; "The People's Plowed Field"), kibbutz in southern Israel, 6 mi. (10 km.) N.E. of *Gaza, affiliated with Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim. Its founding in 1943 by immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe, most of them *Youth Aliyah graduates, constituted a step in the expansion of Jewish settlement toward the Negev. Abundant groundwater reserves were discovered soon after, and in 1947 the first pipeline leading to the Negev outposts was laid from the Nir Am – *Gevar'am area. In the Israeli *War of Independence (1948), the kibbutz became the headquarters, hospital, and supply center for the settlements in the south and Negev, cut off for several months from the rest of Israel. The kibbutz economy was based on intensive field crops, citrus groves, and dairy cattle, as well as a factory for fine cutlery. In addition, the kibbutz developed a tourist industry, including a resort, water museum, paintball, an environmental activities site, and catering. In 2002 its population was 301.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.