NAḤAL OZ (Heb. נַחַל עׂז), kibbutz in southern Israel, established in 1951 as a border settlement by a *Nahal group near the Gaza Strip, affiliated with Iḥud ha-Kevuẓot ve-ha-Kibbutzim. Later, pioneers from South America and other countries joined the kibbutz. Before the *Sinai Campaign (1956), and in the days before the *Six-Day War (1967), Naḥal Oz was frequently a target for attacks and shelling from beyond the Gaza Strip border. After June 1967, a point near the kibbutz became an entrance gate to the Strip. The kibbutz economy was based on intensive farming (field crops, dairy cattle, and poultry) and a hitech enterprise in the field of video communications. In 1997–98 the kibbutz began going over to a private wage economy. This was accompanied by a great crisis causing many residents to leave the kibbutz and the population to drop from 495 in the mid-1990s to 288 in 2002. The name Naḥal Oz points both to the original Naḥal outpost, and to nearby Gaza (whose Hebrew name, Azzah, is derived from the same root as oz, meaning "strength").
[Efraim Orni /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)]