Handala is the most famous of Naji al-Ali’s characters. He is depicted as a ten-year old boy. The figure turned his back to the viewer from the year 1973, and clasped his hands behind his back. The artist explained that the ten-year old represented his age when forced to leave Palestine and would not grow up until he could return to his homeland; his turned back and clasped hands symbolised the character’s rejection of “outside solutions”.
Handala became the signature of Naji al-Ali’s cartoons and remains an iconic symbol of Palestinian identity and defiance.