A Palestinian boy who survived a firebombing allegedly carried out by Jewish extremists, which killed his parents and baby brother, was greeted by Real Madrid’s stars, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, on Thursday.
Five-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha has been recovering from his injuries in an Israeli hospital over the past eight months.
Moved by images of the bandaged boy wearing a Real Madrid jersey, Palestinians campaigned for months on social media to persuade the team to meet Ahmed.
His dream came true as he posed for photos and had a Real shirt christened with his own name on the back signed by the club’s Galacticos, including three-time World Player of the Year Ronaldo and Welsh star Bale.
“The Real Madrid team met him and took photos with him and gave him a shirt and ball signed by the whole team,” Madrid said in a statement.
“Clearly moved, the boy ran around the facilities before witnessing his idols train.”
After meeting the players at Real’s training ground, Ahmed was given a tour of the club’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
The attack in July drew renewed attention to Jewish extremism, sparked international condemnation and worsened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub said Real Madrid was “restoring hope for a child who lost his entire family”.
In December Ronaldo also met a three-year-old Lebanese boy who had lost both parents in a suicide bombing in his home country.
His on-field rival, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, was similarly moved by the plight of another five-year-old: Afghan boy Murtaza Ahmadi won the internet’s heart when he was pictured wearing a plastic bag as an improvised Messi jersey. He traveled with his family to Kabul last month to receive two jerseys autographed by the Argentine star, which were presented to the young fan by UNICEF.
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