Image Credit: Mohamad Zayat / AFP

A War on Children: Children in Lebanon Are Paying the Price of Israeli Aggression

The Israeli aggression on Lebanon, particularly the South and Bekaa regions, have only expanded since October 8, 2023. Rules of engagement have blurred, verging on becoming non-existent, as deep strikes into Lebanese territories developed into the new norm.

Israeli strikes have intentionally targeted civilian structures, healthcare institutions including staff, journalists, schools and other educational institutions, in addition to agricultural land in Lebanon, mirroring their operations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Among those most impacted in Lebanon are children, suffering from a series of damages that continue to impact their daily lives and future prospects.

Paying the Price Amid Absent Protection

According to the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), eight children were killed out of the total 344 people, and another 75 were injured out of the 1359 in Lebanon since October 2023. 

As of April 16, the International Organization of Migration estimates that the number of people displaced reached 92,621, 32 percent of whom are children (under the age of 18).

Moreover, a new UNICEF report highlights the plight of children in the current conflict. It highlights that over 70 schools were closed affecting 20,000 students.

UNICEF representative in Lebanon, Edouard Beigbeder, emphasized the “the profound long-term impact the violence is taking on children’s safety, health and access to education,” while highlighting that the protection of children is an obligation under international humanitarian law.

Children have also been impacted by broader disruptions in services, such as the significant damages done to nine water stations which serve 100,000 individuals and the closure of around 23 healthcare facilities serving 4,000 people.

The conditions of Lebanon’s social services and infrastructures were already severely dismal as a result of back-to-back crises. The Israeli aggression and purposeful targeting of non-combatant individuals, groups and structures have accentuated issues for Lebanon’s population and children.

A War on Children

The methods used by Israeli forces in Lebanon are not so different from those used in Gaza. 

At least 34,568 people were killed in the Strip, including more than 14,500 children, surpassing the number of children killed in conflicts around the world from 2019 to 2022. In the West Bank, more than 124 children were killed.

Despite the large amount of evidence presented by journalists, citizen journalists, monitoring groups and different organizations, the United States (US) and various other countries have continued providing Israeli authorities with military and material support. Interestingly, the US is the only country not to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

Children Impacted by Conflicts Around the Globe

Across the world, children are being disproportionately impacted by conflicts. A disregard of their current and future realities, or the specific targeting of these realities by groups such as Israeli forces, put them at areas of increased danger.

In Sudan, amidst one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, a staggering 19 million school-aged children risk losing out on their education, nearly 730,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and approximately 23 million are exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, among a range of other types of violence.

The disintegration of the legitimacy of international humanitarian law and the international political system poses questions about alternatives, and whether these alternatives can provide children with their most essential rights: to have safe lives and safeguarded futures.