As late as 1946, there were hardly any Jewish settlements in the arid desert, known as the Negev, 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 Jewish State in embryo (the Jewish National Fund, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Hagana Defence Forces and the Mekorot Water Company) decided to extend Jewish settlement in the Negev very significantly, to ensure that the Negev would remain part of the Jewish State.
Preparations had to be conducted in absolute secrecy - a tough assignment in a small, closely-knit community where everyone knew everyone's business. But 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 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 Jewish community of Palestine by surprise. The news spread like wildfire - the unprecedented scope of the operation creating 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 armies. Together with the Negev Brigade of the Palmach 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.
In 1946 there was a total of some 400 pioneering settlers. Over the years they turned vast areas of yellow desert into green pastures. Today, celebrating their Jubilee Year - these settlements are prosperous and their fourth generation is beginning to populate their nurseries, to join the adult population, now 6000-strong, of the 11 "Points".