JERUSALEM (AP) _ The Supreme Court ordered the army on Tuesday not to forcibly remove 600 Egyptian Bedouins from Israeli territory pending a court hearing on their request for asylum, an official said.

The Bedouin of the al-Azazmeh tribe trekked across the border with camels, donkeys and some provisions on Monday in what they said was an effort to escape a feud with another clan and ill treatment by the Egyptian police.

The army fenced in the nomadic group and brought in food, water and medical supplies for members of the tribe but the livestock looked hungry Tuesday, chomping on cardboard boxes in the cool desert wind.

Tribesmen gathered around small bonfires to keep warm as temperatures fell after sundown and wrapped children in colorful blankets.

The Negev regional council, which oversees the desert area on the border, demanded that the army evacuate the Bedouin to Egypt, saying it did not have the means to take care of the tribe.

Troops were set to forcibly remove the tribe on Tuesday but were stopped by the Supreme Court ruling, said Avda Loid, spokeswoman for the Negev regional council.

Egyptian officials visited with the Bedouin on Tuesday in an attempt to persuade them to go back. At the camp, Egyptian officials, accompanied by a members of an international observer force and an Israeli officer, took photographs of the group.

Israeli troops limited journalists from speaking with the tribesman.

Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon said the Bedouin should be ``sent back to the place from which they came.''

``This is a very serious problem, a thing that Israel cannot allow,'' Sharon told reporters in Jerusalem. ``I don't think that any country in the world would permit ... people to suddenly cross its border and settle in its area.''

Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Bassiouny said the matter was not likely to harm Israeli-Egyptian ties.

``This is not a problem between the Egyptian and the Israeli government,'' Bassiouny told journalists. ``It is a problem between the Bedouins and themselves so I don't think it will affect the relations between the two countries.''