The changing ethnic identity and origins of people of Bedouin and African origin living in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip are explored in this paper. For thousands of years, and into the twentieth century, slaves were captured in Africa and transported to Arabia. Negev Bedouin in Palestine owned slaves, many of whom were of African origin. When Israel was created in 1948 some of these people of African origin became refugees in Gaza, while others remained in the Negev and became Israeli citizens. With ethnic identity a key factor in claims and counter claims to land in Palestine/Israel, African slave origins are not stressed. The terminology of ethnicity and identity used by people of African origin and other Palestinians is explored, and reveals a consciousness of difference and rejection of the label abed or slave/black person.