DIMONAH (Heb. דִּימוֹנָה), town in southern Israel, in the central Negev Hills, 21½ mi. (35 km.) southeast of Beer-Sheba and 25 mi. (40 km.) west of Sodom. It was founded in September 1955 to provide the employees of the *Sodom Dead Sea Works with homes in a healthy climate and at a convenient distance from their work. Laborers of the Oron phosphate field nearby also established permanent homes in Dimonah. The population grew to 3,500 in 1959 and by 1968 was 20,000. In 1969 the town received municipal status. Of the families resident at Dimonah in 1968, 65% were immigrants from North Africa, 20% from Europe, 10% from India, and the rest from Persia or born in Israel. Children below 15 years of age made up about half the population. Industry provided 65% of employment. During the 1980s the city's population began to decline, but thanks to the wave of immigration of the 1990s, it began to rise again. The population of Dimonah in the mid-1990s was approximately 30,000, rising further by 2002 to 33,700, making the city the third largest in the Negev. Its municipal area extended over 2.3 sq. mi. (6 sq. km.). At the turn of the 21st century the city's residents were employed in the textile, chemical, and electronic industries as well as in Dead Sea tourism. Some worked at the nearby atomic reactor and the new phosphate field of Ẓefa-Efeh. Income was considerably below the national average.
Dimonah is mentioned as one of the towns belonging to the tribe of Judah in the Negev (Josh. 15:22), but it is not certain whether the ancient site is identical with that of the present town.
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]