palestinian boy meets real madrid players Liebermann PKG_00000116.jpg
Palestinian boy meets soccer mega-star
01:15 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Ahmad Dawabsheh, a 5-year-old Palestinian boy, received terrible burns after a firebomb attack

Members of his extended family arrange for his to meet with Real Madrid

They said the meeting gave Ahmad a reason to hope

Jerusalem CNN  — 

After months of nightmares, the sole survivor of a firebomb attack on a West Bank home had his dream come true Thursday morning. Ahmad Dawabsheh, a 5-year-old Palestinian boy, spent the day with his favorite football club, Real Madrid.

He gave a thumbs up with Cristiano Ronaldo, was hugged by Pepe and flashed a peace sign on the pitch at the team’s famous stadium in Madrid.

The dream trip brought light to a face that has been shrouded in agony.

On July 31, 2015, during a period of relative calm in the West Bank, the Dawabsheh family home in the town of Duma was firebombed. Ahmad’s parents and baby brother were killed in the attack.

Ahmad survived but suffered burns over 80% of his body. He was in the hospital for months. During that time, he didn’t know what happened to his family. Hospital officials feared it would be too much for the boy to bear.

Before Ahmad was even released from the hospital, his extended family put in a request for him to meet Real Madrid. It was a way of giving him a goal, something to look forward to, they said. Scars from the burns are very visible on Ahmad’s head and hands, even eight months after the attack.

“We are so happy that Ahmad’s dream came true, and we are delighted to the Real Madrid club for their acceptance to meet Ahmad and the sympathy they expressed,” said Khaled Shoman, a member of the Palestinian Real Madrid fan club who traveled with Ahmad to Madrid.

As a souvenir of his trip, Ahmad was given a team jersey and a ball, signed by all of his favorite players. Perhaps more importantly, the trip offers him a fresh start with a shared smile in a game whose goal it is to bring happiness.

The July firebombing was condemned across the world.

Israel has since charged suspected Jewish extremist Amiram Ben-Uliel, 21, with murder and three counts of arson. A minor has also been charged, accused of being an accomplice to the attack.