Palestinian child survivor of firebombing to meet Real Madrid stars

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - A Palestinian boy who survived a firebombing by Jewish extremists that killed his parents and brother will travel Tuesday to meet Real Madrid stars including his idol Cristiano Ronaldo.

Five-year-old Ahmed Dawabsha, his uncle and his grandparents were to fly from the Jordanian capital Amman to Spain, his grandfather said.

"We have been invited by Real Madrid, but we don't know yet which day we will be able to meet the players," Hussein Dawabsha told AFP.

Palestinian Football Association head Jibril Rajoub welcomed the "superb humanitarian gesture by Real Madrid, its administration and Cristiano Ronaldo, who are restoring hope for a child who lost his entire family."

"There is an unknown soldier in this initiative and that is Zinedine Zidane, who we warmly thank," he said of the Real Madrid coach.

The July 31 attack on the Dawabsha family home in the village of Duma in the occupied West Bank killed 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsha and fatally wounded his parents.

Ahmed, who was hospitalised after the attack with severe burns, was the sole survivor from the immediate family.

"He has just spent eight months in hospital," his grandfather said. "He is doing better, but a lot of time and care is still needed for him to truly recover."

The attack drew renewed attention to Jewish extremism and accusations Israel had not done enough to prevent such violence.

It also sparked international condemnation and worsened tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinians moved by images of the bandaged boy wearing a Real Madrid jersey campaigned for months on social media to convince the team to meet Ahmed.

The team signalled in January that it would be able to organise such a meeting.

Ronaldo's rival Lionel Messi was similarly moved by the plight of another five-year-old boy.

The Afghan boy won the Internet's heart when he was pictured wearing a plastic bag as an improvised Messi jersey.

Murtaza Ahmadi later travelled with his family to Kabul to receive two jerseys autographed by the Barcelona star and presented to the young fan by UNICEF.

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