Ciaran Buitrago, '25, speaks during the rally in support of Palestine on March 6 in Farrington Square. The crowd then marched across Philip J. Fahy Bridge to hold a vigil outside of Bethlehem City Hall. (Maeve Kelly/ B&W Staff)

Protests for ceasefire in Gaza continue


Approximately 50 Lehigh community members gathered in Farrington Square to protest in support of a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict March 5. 

After the protest, students attended a City Council meeting to support Bethlehem’s ceasefire resolution, which Lehigh students had pushed for in their previous demonstration.

Lehigh4Palestine collaborated with the Student Political Action Coalition, Pards4Palestine and Muhlenberg College’s Middle Eastern Student Association. 

Protestors participated in chants at the rally, some of which called for a divestment from Israel.

Along with the chants, protestors made cardboard coffins that were laid along Farrington’s steps. 

Ciaran Buitrago, ‘25, an organizer of the demonstration and a director for the Student Political Action Coalition, gave a speech to the crowd where he discussed the United States’ involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

He said he, along with many others who gathered, are furious because the majority of this country supports a ceasefire; however, the U.S. government vetoes calls for a ceasefire in the United Nations. 

According to Data for Progress, 61% of likely American voters support a permanent ceasefire and de-escalating violence in Gaza.

Buitrago also discussed the atrocities being committed in Gaza. Last Thursday, over 100 refugees seeking aid, many of whom were children, were killed during what is being called the Flour Massacre.

He quoted Israel’s National Security Secretary, Itamar Ben-Gvir, in response to the event in which he called the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza madness.

“So slaughtering Palestinians is not enough?” Buitrago said. “You also have to starve them and deny them medical supplies and deny their baby’s formula.” 

According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, 90% of children under 5 years old in Gaza have fallen ill with at least one infectious disease. 

“That’s hundreds of thousands of 3- and 4-year-olds, 2-year-olds, newborns,” Buitrago said.

Speeches during the protest also included support for Aaron Bushnell, a U.S. Air Force member who self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Feb. 25 to call attention to the atrocities the Israeli military has enacted against Gazan civilians. 

Caitlyn Hall, ‘25, said the media has painted Bushnell as a man without morality instead of a man who chose to no longer be complicit in genocide. 

“The media is creating a false narrative that Bushnell’s actions will incite others to light themselves on fire,” Hall said. “The purpose of lighting himself on fire is not to encourage others to do the same. It is to scream to the world that you cannot find another alternative and in that respect is a challenge to the rest of us to prove that there are ways to resist a country whose cruelty has become intolerable.”

Milanis Rivas, ‘26, a student at Muhlenberg College, said she hopes this protest will emphasize the importance of intersectionality between various social justice movements. She said the genocide in Gaza affects everyone. 

“We’re a people: when one of us is impacted, all of us are impacted,” Rivas said.

The groups emphasized the need to make their voices heard prior to the City Council meeting.

 “We are citizens of the one country in the way of peace,” Buitrago said. “I don’t know about you guys, but that makes me furious, and that’s why we need to be out here today.”

Following the rally, a number of protesters attended the Bethlehem City Council meeting at 7 p.m. where public testimony lasted over five hours. 

City council chambers reached max capacity as several people spoke both for and against a proposed resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Council President Michael Colón asked to adjourn the meeting around midnight, as protesters began chanting “ceasefire now.” The City council was unable to vote on a ceasefire or reach any other parts of its agenda. 

The next City Council meeting will take place at Bethlehem Town Hall on March 19 at 7 p.m. 

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1 Comment

  1. Protestors improper behavior at City Council was uncalled for & immature on the part of these activist students/ Professors/residents.

    Where is the call for Palestinians to rise up against Hamas to take control of their own fate vs letting a known Terrorist organization rule Gaza?

    Non of this belongs in front of City Council to interfere with local legislative proceedings. Not to mention the beligerant yelling at Council members from the podium.

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