Hundreds of cars were parked June 1 in a dusty, improvised lot next to a tent erected near the famous Lake of Yeruham in south Israel. Inside the giant white tent, a lottery was being held for plots of land in the town’s new neighborhood, "Ofek." The event was set to start at 5 p.m., but by 4 p.m. the tent was already packed. Someone remarked cynically that the Tel Avivians had arrived early because they didn’t know how long it takes to get to Yeruham.
And, in fact, although most of those present were residents of the south — locals from Yeruham and neighbors from the nearby towns of Beersheba, Dimona and several Bedouin villages in the region — some Tel Aviv denizens were also in attendance, along with residents of the towns of Ramat Gan, Zichron Ya’akov and Haifa in the north. It turns out that people from all over the country are yearning for a piece of land in the middle of the desert.