Naji Salim al-Ali

Naji Salim al-Ali Naji Al-Ali(1938 - 1987) was a Palestinian cartoonist, well-recognized for the political criticism of Israel in his works. He was born in 1938 or thereabouts in the northern Palestinian village of Al-Shajara, located between Tiberias and Nazareth, Palestine.

He went into exile in the south of Lebanon with his family in 1948 during the Palestinian exodus and lived in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, after which he moved to Tripoli, then to the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut followed by Saudi Arabia.

He entered the Lebanon Academy of Arts in 1960 and had his first drawings published alongside an accompanying article by Palestinian writer and activist Ghassan Kanafani. He worked at various Kuwaiti and Lebanese newspapers, and was imprisoned for political reasons on more than one occasion. In his career as a political cartoonist, Naji al-Ali produced over 40,000 drawings.

They generally dealt with the situation of the Palestinian people, depicting suffering and resistance. Handala is the most famous of al-Ali’s characters, and depicts a ten-year old boy who first appeared in 1963 and remains a symbol of Palestinian resistance. Naji al-Ali published three books of his cartoons in 1976, 1983 and 1985, and was preparing another at the time of his death.

On July 22, 1987, al-Ali was shot in the face and mortally wounded. He died five weeks later in a London hospital.