At the end of the 1950s, the State began to plan the urbanization of the Bedouin community in the Negev. Concentrating the Bedouins in crowded urban areas, Israeli authorities tried to increase its control over the community, preventing the growth of the unrecognized villages and establishing settlements with low cost infrastructure. In 1966, with the end of the military regime, the process of urbanization was on the way. The State established seven Bedouin towns, most of them within the Siyaj area (where the Bedouin community was concentrated during the 1950s under a military regime), promising modern services in return for organized settlement in urban areas.
The first town, Tel As-Sab’a (Tel Sheva), was established in 1968, and until the 1990s six other towns were formed. There is clear discrimination by Israeli authorities against the six Bedouin towns and the city of Rahat. All suffer from high unemployment rates, crime, social tensions and lack of municipal services. Until the mid-1990s, Israeli policy focused on concentrating the Bedouin rural population in these seven communities. This process is carried-out in total disregard of the traditional Bedouin lifestyle, which is based on animal husbandry and living in rural conditions.
In 2014, some 155,000 people were living in urban communities that constitute more than two-thirds of the Bedouin community in the Negev. According to the latest report by the Central Bureau of Statistics, all seven of these localities are ranked in the lowest socio-economic cluster in Israel.