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5-year-old Duma attack survivor meets Real Madrid idol

March 17, 2016 8:17 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2016 12:23 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian child whose family was killed in an arson attack committed by Israeli settlers last year was welcomed by major Spanish football club Real Madrid on Thursday.

Ahmad Dawabsha, 5, arrived at the Real Madrid club headquarters in Madrid accompanied by his grandfather, where he met a number of players including his idol Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ahmad was the sole survivor of a deadly arson attack carried out by extremist Israeli settlers on his family home in the northern West Bank village of Duma on July 30 last year. The child lost both his parents, Saad and Riham, as well as his 18-month-old brother, Ali.

Federation president Jibril Rajoub said in a statement prior to the child’s visit that Real Madrid “sympathized with Dawabsha after a photo of him wearing the team’s uniform in his hospital bed went viral,” prompting the club to extend an invitation.

Rajoub said the team’s gesture was “appreciated, and would have humanitarian dimensions.”

A campaign for Ahmad to meet his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, a player for the team, had garnered international support in past months.

Real Madrid posted a video of the child meeting the team on social media.

The attack that left Dawabsha’s entire family dead brought international attention to Israel's failure to hold Israeli settlers and Jewish extremists accountable for attacks on Palestinians, in effect being complicit in such attacks.

Several Israelis were arrested in late 2015 over the deadly arson attack on Ahmad’s family. In January, two Israelis, one of them a minor, were charged with three counts of murder and being an accessory to murder.

Israeli leadership at the time condemned the Dawabsha attack as "terrorism," and pledged to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Israeli rights group B'Tselem slammed the reaction by Israeli officials as "empty rhetoric."

"Official condemnations of this attack are empty rhetoric as long as politicians continue their policy of avoiding enforcement of the law on Israelis who harm Palestinians, and do not deal with the public climate and the incitement which serve as backdrop to these acts," the group said at the time.

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