Published: 2018-11-05 14:53
Last Updated: 2018-11-06 10:16
The oldest and the largest olive tree was found in the Palestinian village of Al-Walaja in Bethlehem, south of West Bank.
The “Bedouin Tree” belongs to a Palestinian 45-year-old citizen, Salah Abu Ali, who was appointed by the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture as the tree guide, 10 years ago.
Italian experts estimated the age of the tree at 3,000 years, while the Japanese estimated it at about 5,500 years, says Abu Ali, adding that he spends the whole day sitting next to the tree, which has become a destination for foreign and local tourists.
“Every day, there is a large number of tourists who come to see the huge tree from various destinations, including Palestine, the West Bank, and many other foreign countries,” he said.
The tree, which is located tens of kilometers away from Al-Walaja citizens’ homes, is adjacent to the Israeli West Bank barrier, which was built by the Tel Aviv authorities on the West Bank, and is claimed to prevent Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
"The wall is only 10 meters away from the tree, which was about to be destroyed because of dredging during the construction of the wall," Abu Ali said, pointing out that he has no doubt that dredging had cut off some parts of the tree roots.
"The age of the tree is estimated at 5,500 years," he said. "This is a sign that the Canaanite Arab appeared in Palestine, thousands of years before the Israeli occupation,” Abu Ali confirmed.
Abu Ali's family refuses to sell the tree, as they see that it only belongs to them. "The idea of selling the land is unacceptable," says Abu Ali.
Every day, Abu Ali takes care of the tree’s surroundings, which he has turned into a natural garden, where he built stone walls and benches. He also said that he feels as if his soul is connected to it.
The massive tree, which he calls an “olive vineyard”, is 12 meters high, about 25 meters in diameter, covering 250 square meters, with about 22 trees connected as one part.
The tree produces about 500 kg of fruits per year, but the produce has declined in recent years due to drought.
Director of the Olive Oil Council in Palestine, Mr. Fayyad Fayyad, said that the Al-Walaja tree is the oldest olive tree in the world and is estimated to be more than 5,000 years old.
Fayyad also stresses that its oil is one of the best oils because of the tree’s age.
He pointed out that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, gifted a bottle of the tree’s oil to former US President, Barack Obama, when he took office in 2009..