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Seven Corners restaurant holds fundraiser to support humanitarian aid in Gaza

Bawadi Mediterranean Grill in Seven Corners (via Google Maps)

A restaurant in Seven Corners will raise funds tonight (Monday) for Palestinian refugees after its owner’s family members were recently killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Bawadi Mediterranean Grill announced last week that it will donate 50% of sales made between 6 and 9:30 p.m. to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is tasked with distributing food and other aid in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

As a Palestinian born in Gaza, Bawadi owner Khalid Mekki says he “felt compelled…to try to do something” to help the civilians whose lives have been upended since Israel declared war on Hamas in retaliation for the militant group’s deadly surprise attack on Israeli military sites and towns on Oct. 7.

“When I was reached by the UNRWA, [I felt] it was a great idea for me to be able to participate in,” Mekki told FFXnow.

Bawadi also donated 50% of its sales to UNRWA on Oct. 31.

Located at 6304 Leesburg Pike, Bawadi has been serving kabobs, pita wraps and other Middle Eastern food in the Falls Church area for about eight years now. The restaurant moved to its current site after the lease for its original location in Bailey’s Crossroads ended in 2018.

“We serve all communities. We have no political agenda,” Mekki said. “All we’re trying to do is help those unfortunate people back in Gaza through the only channel that’s available for them.”

Late last week, Israel revised its death toll from the Oct. 7 attack to 1,200 people, down from previous estimates of over 1,400 people, most of them civilians. Another 239 people were taken hostage by Hamas.

Since Israel began its siege on Gaza, more than 11,000 people have been killed in the territory, including more than 4,100 children, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry. Israel has blocked food, water, fuel and other supplies, allowing just a trickle of aid, according to UNRWA, which operates 14 food distribution centers and 150 refugee shelters in Gaza.

Among the dead are Mekki’s niece, her husband and their three kids. He says the family was killed by an Israeli bomb that hit their house earlier this month.

“It is very sad to lose them,” Mekki told FFXnow. “…We are big believers [in God], and this actually gives us comfort. They are in a better place. We just don’t wish it to anybody else.”

With other family members still in Gaza, Mekki has also been advocating for the U.S. to pressure Israel for a ceasefire, urging anyone who wants to support the fundraiser to also contact Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and their Congressional representatives.

“Killing civilians is not the right option to resolve this conflict,” Mekki said. “We hate to see anybody from both sides getting hurt as civilians, and we want this to end. These people are suffering, and it’s our responsibility, especially in the United States. We enjoy the freedom of speech, we enjoy the freedom of living good that other people in the world deserve the same way.”

Kaine and Warner joined several other Democratic senators on Nov. 2 in calling for a “short-term cessation of hostilities” to allow for humanitarian aid in Gaza, hostage negotiations and “broader discussion” among Israeli and Palestinian leaders of strategies to reduce the century-old conflict.

Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer have also made statements supporting a pause in fighting to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Students across Fairfax County staged walkouts last month to advocate for a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s 16-year blockade of Gaza and occupation of the West Bank, where settler violence has increased since Oct. 7. Last Thursday (Nov. 9), high school students in Alexandria walked out, and protestors outside military contractor offices in Arlington were arrested.

The White House announced on Thursday that Israel had agreed to pause its bombing of Gaza for four hours every day, though President Joe Biden has been pushing for a “multi-day stoppage,” the Associated Press reported.

“We have families back home, back in Gaza, and we feel worried about them and we hope they stay safe,” Mekki said. “The sooner this gets a ceasefire and they stop this, I think it will be a good thing for everybody.”

Photo via Google Maps

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