Mariam Amash (archives)
Photo: Hassan Shaalan
Mariam Amash of the Arab-Israeli village of Jisr a-Zarka died Saturday morning. According to the Interior Ministry's population registry, she was 124 years old. The listing was based on a birth certificate issued by Turkish authorities who ruled the region at the time.
Amash, whose identification card states that she was born on "00.00.1888," had 10 children of her own and some 300 descendents.
If Amash was in fact 124 years old at the time of her death, that would make her the oldest women ever documented. Officially, Jeanne Louise Calment, a French supercentenarian, had the longest confirmed human lifespan in history, living to the age of 122 years, 164 days.
Amash's ID card
In an interview she gave Ynet seven months ago, Amash said "I'm 124 years old and my identification card says I was born in 1888. Unfortunately, I do not know the exact date, so at the end of each year my family surprises me with a party and gifts."
Mariam was very well-known throughout the entire Arab sector, and her family said people came from all over the world, as well as from Jewish schools in Israel, to hear her stories.
Majd Amash, one of her grandchildren, told Ynet "We all know she was the oldest woman in the world. Strangers would visit her from across the globe and they all said they did not know of anyone who had reached her age.
"Despite her age she was strong, and we learned many interesting things from her. She began to feel ill three days ago, and we immediately took her to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. During her last days she told us to watch over her grandchildren and that she loves everyone. Unfortunately, she died today. It was very difficult for us."
Over the course of her life Masha made the pilgrimage to Mecca five times and prayed five times a day. "I always thank god for what he has given me, and I hope I will be given more years. Instead of telling me 'May you live until 120,' people will say 'May you live until 150.' I don't know if I will reach that age," she told Ynet in March.
"I know what is going on in the country – politically and socially – and I am aware of the Arab sector's difficulties. You can say that our lives were better before, but I still want to thank the Israeli government for the help it has given us," she said.
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