With the establishment of Israel in 1948, military government was imposed on regions inhabited by the Palestinian-Arab majority, including the Palestinian Arab-Bedouin tribes of the Naqab (Negev). The justification was that the Arab population who remained in Palestine, and became citizenry of the newly established state, perceived to pose a threat to Israel's security. The article examines the establishment and dissolution of the tribal courts in the Naqab during the military government period by means of a critical analysis of official archival documents and newspaper reports published at the time. These sources reveal the power structure and the security considerations for the establishment of the tribal courts in the Naqab. Additionally, the article shows how the case of the tribal courts sheds light on patterns of action employed by the military government and the Israeli political system from 1948 to 1966, and the policies implemented towards the Arab-Bedouin population in the Naqab.

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