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    Preserving Israel’s Ancient Olive Trees


    by NTDTelevision

    [Yaacov Shkolnik, Tour Guide]:
    "If you had olive oil in ancient times you had it all."

    The Bet-Hakerem Valley is home to hundreds of ancient olive trees. It's a uniquely preserved plantation in the north of Israel.

    [Sohil Zedan, Director, Land Development Authority]:
    "Bet-Hakerem Valley is called the valley of sculptured olive trees. In the whole world there is not one place that contains 44 thousand acres of ancient olive trees concentrated in one valley, except here in Israel."
    The olive tree is one of the most important natural resources in Israel’s ancient history. It wasn’t only used as a source of food, but rather, for energy and light.

    [Yaacov Shkolnik]:
    "In ancient times people didn't eat olives. It was too precious. What they did, they grew olives for the oil. They had many uses for the oil. If you wanted to light your house it was olive oil to be used, if you wanted to heal a wound you also needed the olive oil."

    In the Jewish tradition, the holiday of Hanukkah was created to celebrate a miracle that involved olive oil. History has it, that olive oil was used to light and burn a special religious oil lamp for eight days. Two olive branches are also part of the symbol representing the State of Israel.The Bet Jamal monastery has many hollowed out olive trees. As there aren't any rings left there’s no way to know exactly how old these trees are. The Israeli Land Development Authority works on mapping and documenting each of the trees.

    [Sohil Zedan, Director, Land Development Authority]:
    "I would not be wrong in saying that this tree is thousands of years old, but to be on the safe side, I'll say it is at least one thousand or two thousand years old."
    To preserve these ancient trees they must be given special treatment.

    The olive branch is also a universal symbol for peace and harmony. It was the olive branch that symbolised the end of the flood in Noah's Ark and that life would continue.