The olive tree is the national symbol of the Palestinians. Resilient and steadfast, the olive trees have always been a part of the landscape. Though also found in Africa and Asia, olive trees have been cultivated in the Mediterranean region since the ancient times. Requiring full sun, the olive trees thrive in hot and dry areas. Because the olive tree symbolizes life, the olive tree is considered “sacred” to many Palestinians.
In 2007, PR Director Hitham I. Kayali of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees wrote in “This Week in Palestine”: All of this attention within its symbolic context pushed Palestinians to widely plant it. Palestinians plant this tree in all areas. It is planted from heights that reach up to 900m all the way down to the Jordan Valley at 250m below sea level.
Palestinians continue to plant throughout the West Bank and Gaza. Specific to the West Bank, most of the new trees are from the oil-producing variety with 25% ending up as olive oil.
To view a video about harvesting olives in Palestine, please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPXCqEyRHS4