The Negev (named after a desert in Israel) is an Israeli 5.56 mm light machine gun. Developed by the Israel Military Industries (IMI) and manufactured by the Israel Weapon Industries (IWI). The Negev is used operationally since 1996.
The first Lebanon war (1982-1985) was a war of infantry. The battles were long and dynamic and required high infantry mobility with high volume of fire. Therefore, at the war's end the IDF concluded that there was a need for a new light machine gun.
Even though an official request did not come from the IDF, in 1985 the development of the Negev went underway. The credit for the Negev development goes to Eitan Shimi, Ilan Shalev, and Yarden Shaked – the product engineer, who is accompanying the project from its beginning and today is leading the development team of the next generation of the Negev. These three developers received the IMI first prize for their development of the Negev light Machine Gun (LMG).
The Negev successfully past the IDF acceptance tests at the end of 1993.
The first shipment of the Negev was delivered to the IDF on November 1996. From then on the Negev replaced the FN MAG and became the IDF's official LMG.
Once the IMI finished equipping the IDF, the Negev began to be marketed world wide. Today the Negev is used by over 50 countries as their army's official Light Machine Gun.