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  • Naji Salim Hussain al-Ali (L) and his most iconic cartoon, of a refugee Palestinian boy, Handala (R).

    Naji Salim Hussain al-Ali (L) and his most iconic cartoon, of a refugee Palestinian boy, Handala (R). | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

"My brush is my only weapon, I use it to stand against the vicious forces of evil in our world," Naji Salim Hussain al-Ali.

Handala, with his back to the viewer, dressed in ragged clothes and bare-footed, has over the years become a symbol for the Palestinian right to return.

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The character's creator — Naji Salim Hussain al-Ali — was murdered in broad daylight 30 years ago. The suspects have yet to be found.

But three decades after the Palestinian cartoonist was killed, UK police have launched a new probe into his case, appealing for anyone who may have leads on who killed al-Ali.

"A lot can change in 30 years — allegiances shift and people who were not willing to speak at the time of the murder may now be prepared to come forward with crucial information," Commander Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard's Counter Terrorism Command (CTC) said in a police statement Tuesday.

On August 29, 1987, al-Ali, while walking in West London, was shot in the back of the neck. Witnesses at the time said he had been pursued by a man for around 40 seconds just moments before. Another person was also seen driving away from the scene.

Investigators have been searching for anyone who might have information on the identity of the two men.

Al-Ali’s family has also welcomed the reopening of the case. His son Osama said they were "encouraged" by it, and hope that it will lead to “some path towards resolution, so we know what happened”, according to Ma’an.

The cartoonist had grown up in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon before moving to Kuwait. He had also worked alongside the Palestinian revolutionary and novelist Ghassan Kanafani who first published al-Ali's drawings in 1961.

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As al-Ali’s cartoons often satirized both Israeli and Arab politics, many believe his murder was politically motivated.

"At the time police arrested several suspects with links to the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and the Israeli intelligence service Mossad but with little in the way of hard evidence. No one has ever been charged with the murder," said Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan from London.

"My brush is my only weapon, I use it to stand against the vicious forces of evil in our world," al-Ali had once said.

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