(Israel Twitter)-Arad,עֲרָד, عِرَادَ, is a city in the South District of Israel. It is located on the border of the Negev and Judean Deserts, 25 kilometers (15.5 mi) west of the Dead Sea and 45 kilometers (28.0 mi) east of the city Beersheba. The city is home to a diverse population of 23,400 including Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews, both secular and religious, Bedouins and Black Hebrews, as well as native-born Israelis and new immigrants. The city is notable for its clean, dry air and serves as a major attraction to asthmatics worldwide.
Although attempts to settle the area were made as early as 1921, the city was founded only in November 1962 as one of the last two development towns to be established, and the first planned city in Israel. Arad's population grew significantly with the Aliyah from the Commonwealth of Independent States in the 1990s, and peaked in 2002 at 24,500 residents. The city has seen a decline in population ever since.
As the second-largest city in Israel in terms of jurisdiction, Arad contains a number of large public places and facilities, such as the ruins of Tel Arad, the Arad Park, an airfield serving domestic flights, and Israel's first legal race circuit. It is also well-known for its annual music festival, which was one of the most popular annual music events in the country until 1995.
The first modern attempt to settle the area was made by the Yishuv, the body of Jewish residents in Mandate Palestine, on 23 February 1921, when the British Mandate government allowed released soldiers from the Jewish Legion to settle in the area. Nine men and two women attempted the task, but after four months were forced to leave because water was not found in the area.
Other than tourist venues, Arad's commerce is mostly concentrated in the central commerce area, as envisioned in the original plan. There is one shopping mall in the city, the Arad Mall, in the northern block of the commerce sector. In addition to the main area, there are small shop clustern in most neighborhoods in the city, notably a building called The Star (HaKokhav) in the Tlalim quarter. A lone supermarket outside the center, Mega in the City, is located in the industrial zone, near the entrance to the city, and a major shopping complex is planned near it by a real estate company called Zim Centers. Another important commercial center in Arad is the Arad Market, open only on Mondays, located in the light industry zone.
Other than the annual music festival, Arad has two main tourist venues—its clean air, which brings asthmatics from all over the world to the city, and its proximity to the Dead Sea, which allows tourists to pay much less for accommodation as well as having municipal services nearby, and still be able to easily reach the sea. To that end, there are three hotels in the city—Inbar, Yefe Nof Arad and Margoa Arad. However, Arad's municipality is trying to encourage other tourist venues, such as hiking and ecological tourism. Additionally, travellers to Masada may also prefer to stay in Arad, which is the closest (22 km/13.7 mi by road) urban settlement to this popular site, and the only way to reach its western side. On the outskirts of Arad, near the hotel area, there is a large white monument conceived by Yigal Tumarkin in 1968, called Mitzpe Mo'av (Mo'av Lookout), which also offers a view of the Judean Desert.
Arad is served by a local Israel Police station, located next to the municipal compound and the Magen David Adom station. It is commanded by Superintendent Yuval Paz and has 58 members. Arad's station also serves the Sodom area.
Arad's police force was chosen as the exceptional force for 2007, and awarded an award of excellence on 5 March 2008. Among others, a severe reduction in property crime was cited. Arad's force was able to reduce the amount of such crimes from 1,092 in 2003 to just 168 in 2007. On 18 July 2008, Arad police, in a rare incident, shot dead a man threatening to kill his ex-wife with a knife.
There are two ways to get to Arad: by air or road. The only highway connecting Arad with the rest of the country is Highway 31, which connects it with Beersheba to the west, and the Dead Sea to the east. It has two junctions within Arad's municipal area—the Arad Junction (within the city itself, with Road 3199), and the Tel Arad Junction (with Highway 80). The local Road 3199 connects Arad with Masada, but does not connect to the road next to the dead sea (Highway 90). It is therefore the only way to get to Masada's western side.