Rows of boys wearing military fatigues and red berets marched with mock Katyushas on their shoulders on Thursday in memory of the Israeli bombing of a UN base in Qana in southern Lebanon on April 18, 1996, that killed 105 people.
Girls in white head-to-toe chadors carried effigies of blood-stained white doves bearing the names of several southern villages where civilians have been killed in Israeli shellings over the past decade.
Lebanese civilians had taken refugee at the UN base in Qana during Israel’s “Grapes of Wrath” offensive aimed at wiping out the Shia Hezbollah movement and stopping strikes on its territory.
Israel said the bombing was a mistake but a UN report concluded it was probably deliberate.
“Removing the arms of the resistance is removing the strength of Lebanon,” read one placard carried by the children, referring to a 2004 UN Security Council Resolution which calls for the disarmament of all militias in Lebanon.
Israel pulled its troops out of southern Lebanon in May 2000 after a 22-year occupation in the face of a guerrilla campaign by the Iranian and Syrian-backed Hezbollah.
The group remains the only Lebanese movement with an armed wing in defiance of the terms ending Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civilwar. It is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States, which accuses it of the bombing the US marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed 241 US marines.