Wādi an-Naʿam is the largest unrecognized village in Israel, with about 13,000 inhabitants. Most of the inhabitants are internally displaced, having been removed from the area of the western Negev. The village was established in the early 1950s. In 1974 the construction of the Industrial Council ‘Neot Hovav’ was founded nearby. The village derives its name from the plane area where it is located, which is also called Wādi an-Naʿam.
The village has a clinic and a center for family health, which were opened following an appeal to the Supreme Court. But since these facilities are located at the margins of the village, most of the inhabitants travel to the town of Šgīb as-Salām, about 15 km from the village, to obtain treatment. There are three elementary schools in the village, all integrated with the intermediate school system, while high-school students attend the school in Šgīb as-Salām. On the eve of the school year in September 2013, the Education Ministry announced the closure of the schools in the village. Currently the schools still operate, but the Education Ministry plans to transfer the schools to Šgīb as-Salām by the end of the year.
The village has several connecting points to the main water pipe along road 40, from where the inhabitants themselves draw their pipes. Since the water pressure is low, those residing farther from the road are forced to carry water with tanks. The village is not connected to the national electric grid and uses mostly solar panels for obtaining it. The schools are not connected to the electric grid as well, and are operated by generators. There are no paved roads in the village. Following a prolonged battle initiated by the school parents’ committee, a traffic light was constructed on road 40 to allow school buses to move safely into and out of the village.
Wādi an-Naʿam is an unrecognized village located within the security zone surrounding the Industrial Council of Neot Hovav. The authorities made several attempts to reach an agreement with the inhabitants for the transfer of the village as a single unit to another location, but these have all failed. The state aims at a solution based on the incorporation of the village into the Bedouin town of Šgīb as-Salām, following an expected expansion of the town. For their part, the residents oppose an urban settlement, and given the measure taken in recent years to protect the region against pollution following the foundation of a new military base nearby, they wish to remain as an agricultural settlement in their current location. The village is subject to policies of crop and house demolitions, and many of the houses are now under demolition orders.
*Other forms of writing: Wadi al-Naam, Wadi Alnaam, Wadi Naam, Wadi Alna’am, Wadi Nam, Wadi Alnam