The Negev's 11 Points

As late as 1946, there were hardly any Jewish settlements in the Negev - the desert area which constitutes a very large proportion of the land area of Israel. So much so that the July 1946 Morrison Grady plan for the division of Palestine actually took the Negev out of the borders of the Jewish State, and Jewish settlement was prohibited in this whole area. In response to this, the institutions of the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine under the British Mandate), namely the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Hagana Defence Forces and the Mekorot Water Company, decided to significantly extend Jewish settlement in the Negev to ensure that this region would remain part of the Jewish State.

Preparations were conducted in absolute secrecy. The objective was achieved and after sunset following the fast of Yom Kippur, 6 October 1946, eleven groups of pioneers reached their eleven destinations; eleven settlements were established simultaneously on this night and the map of Jewish settlement was changed forever.

These eleven settlements, with about 400 settlers, came to be known as the 11 "Points" of the Negev and comprised Kedma and Gal-On in the north east (close to Kfar Menachem and Gat); Shuval and Mishmar HaNegev, a little further south but still to the east; Nevatim and Hatzerim, near Beer Sheva, and Urim to the west, near Gevulot and, finally, the four "Points": Tekuma, Be'eri, Kfar Darom and Nirim, bordering the Gaza Strip.

The announcement that these 11 "Points" had been established overnight, took the whole of the Yishuv by surprise. The news spread like wildfire and the unprecedented scope of the operation created an immense feeling of pride and hope for the future.

Before they had time to build up their settlements and before they could enjoy the produce of the land, the War of Independence broke out and the new settlers became the human shield for the fledgling Jewish State against the Egyptian army. Together with the Negev Brigade of the Palmach and later on other brigades of the IDF's Southern Front they decided the fate of the Negev as part of the State of Israel and a major chapter in the history of the Jewish people's resettlement of the Land of Israel was written.

The stamp was issued in 1996 to celebrating the Jubilee Year of the 11 "Points". Designer: I. Gabay.