City (pop., 2006 est.: 185,300), southern Israel. Historically it marked the extreme southern limit of Palestine, hence the biblical phrase from Dan to Beersheba (Dan is in far northern Israel). It fell to the Arabs in the 7th century and to the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was long a watering place for the nomadic Bedouin tribes of the Negev desert. Held by the British from 1917, it became part of Israel in 1948. It has since developed as the administrative, cultural, and industrial centre of the Negev.