I came across this article from last year about a 125-year-old man living in Gaza.
Born in 1888 and still alive Omar Rajab Mohammad Toum, from Gaza, has lived through the Palestinian modern history, from the Ottoman era to the British rule and the subsequent Israeli occupation.
He’s seen it all, and still remembers when the world around him was without border checks and as a soldier with the Ottomans, he used to travel without identity papers, moving between Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Libya.
When the British ruled, the Palestinian story began and revolutionaries emerged, he said. “I was with them and I had a gun; I knew how to carry it and shoot. We used to go at night and destroy bridges used by occupiers.”
Compared to the present day, however, the old days were much peaceful, he said. “Under the Ottomans, everything was free. We used to work in agriculture and grow berries, peaches, grapes, sell and eat.”
While many of his generation married more than one wife, Mohammad Toum had only one. “I married once and my wife was amazing; she was a great help for me in life. We had four children and now I have 300 grandchildren and I cannot remember all their names.”
The secret of having lived for 125 years could be in his diet. Mohammad Toum said he mainly takes olive oil and thyme for breakfast and rabbit meat every day for lunch. He said a type of clarified butter known as “ghee” is also part of daily diet.
Needless to say, the fact his claims mean he will be the verified oldest person ever, plus our experience with the palestinians playing fast and loose with the truth, I dug deeper.
There is no Snopes entry on this, so I could not dismiss his claim out of hand. However, I did read some other articles about him and noticed some discrepancies.
For instance, from IBT:
A Palestinian man named Rajab Al Toum recently reached a monumental milestone – he celebrated his 125th birthday in his hometown of Jabalia, just north of Gaza City. Al Toum, who was born in 1889 when the decaying Ottoman Empire ruled much of the Middle East, attributed his enormously long life partly to eating vegetables and avoiding red meat, reported Al Bawaba, an Amman, Jordan-based newspaper. “Regarding my health, I still feel healthy,” Al Toum, allegedly one of the oldest people on earth, said. “I eat only healthy food such as olive oil, milk, brown bread, vegetables, fruit, and rabbit meat.” He added: “Don’t trust red meat.”
Al Bawaba noted that Al Toum returned to Gaza following the Ottomans defeat in the First World War and had four sons and five daughters.
This from Emirates 24/7:
Rajab Al Toum of Palestine wants to enter into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest person on earth. He puts his age at 125 years as he was born in 1889 and fought during the World War I for the Ottoman Empire which had ruled the region for hundreds of years.
Quoted by the Turkish Anatolian news agency, Al Toum, he said he was summoned for military service by the Ottomans when he was 30 years old. He fought with them during the World War I against the allied forces in Lebanon before the Turks were defeated and forced out of the Middle East in 1918.
He went back to Gaza and married but his wife was infertile. He married again and had four sons and five daughters. His family now comprises 370 members.
And another mentioning his marital status:
About his marital lifestyle he said that he married only once. His wife was an wonderful woman and therefore did not enter into 2nd knot like other males of his generation. He has now three hundred grandchildren and it is difficult for him to memorize their names
So what we have is a man who claims to have been born in 1888 – or is it 1889 – who only married once – or was it twice? – and had 4 children – or was it 9?
Granted, he may be very old and have a terrible memory, and not deliberately lying. But why then have others been helping him push his claim?
I don’t think we are going to see Omar Rajab Mohammad Toum in the Guinness Book of Records any time soon., but I wish him a long – ehhh, longer – life.