IDF uses 14th-century trebuchet to throw fireballs into Lebanon after Hezbollah rains over 200 rockets on Israel

IDF uses 14th-century trebuchet to throw fireballs into Lebanon after Hezbollah rains over 200 rockets on Israel
IDF uses 14th-century trebuchet to throw fireballs into Lebanon after Hezbollah rains over 200 rockets on Israel

IDF reportedly said that the deployment of an ancient weapon phased out in 14th century was a ‘local initiative’

Israeli soldiers were filmed using a medieval-style trebuchet weapon to launch burning projectiles across the Lebanese border in clips posted online by Israeli media on Thursday.

The footage, originally shared by soldiers according to the Israel Hayom newspaper, showed troops using a wooden catapult mechanism mounted on a platform with wheels to propel unspecified munitions over the border wall.

Soldiers used the “medieval siege weapon to ignite dry bushes and dry vegetation” to expose the positions of enemy Hezbollah fighters on the Lebanese side of the border “without relying on valuable artillery,” Israel Hayom reported.

Israel and Lebanese militant faction Hezbollah have traded fire throughout the eight month of Israeli bombardment of Gaza. Hostilities have escalated in recent weeks, with the Lebanese group launching one of its largest rocket barrages of the war at targets across Israel on Wednesday, which it said was in response to Israel’s assassination of a senior commander.

Israeli media has reported that more than 100 rockets were launched from Lebanon into Israel on Thursday, with warning sirens constantly sounding. Rocket fire into Israel has caused widespread fires across northern areas.

A military correspondent for Israel’s state broadcaster, Kann, Itay Blumenthal, said the “ballister” was used to light fires in Lebanese territory. A spokesperson for the IDF reportedly told Kann: “This is a local initiative and not a tool that has come into widespread use.”

i has contacted the IDF for comment.

Dr Iain MacInnes, a history professor and specialist in medieval warfare at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said the trebuchet has been obsolete for centuries, having served as a “siege weapon.”

“The trebuchet first came from ancient China (traced back to about 4BC), and then its development as a weapon of war came over a long period moving westward from China through the Muslim world and then eventually into Europe,” he said. “It was increasingly overtaken by the advent of artillery and the development of cannons from the 14th century onwards.”

The apparent use by the IDF is an “odd choice,” Dr MacInnes suggests, but notes that the mechanism allowed Israeli soldiers to clear a high border wall in front of their positions.

Israeli military analyst, Yoni Ben Menachem, believes the use of a trebuchet may have been an impulsive rather than a strategic move.

“This is a temporary step to retaliate about the fires that broke out in Israeli territory as a result of Hezbollah bombing,” he said. “I think they are going to use it for a short time, it’s not something permanent.”

Kobi Michael, a senior researcher at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and the Misgav Institute, said the surprise tactics could reflect frustration among soldiers.

“If it as it looks, it demonstrates the outcome of huge frustration of the IDF reservists about the asymmetry between the destruction caused by Hezbollah and the irrelevance of the Israeli response,” he told inews.


Hezbollah launched 200 rockets at Israel after senior commander killed

Israel has been accused of violations of international law for using incendiary munitions against populated areas of south Lebanon, including white phosphorus. The IDF said in response that it “only uses legal weaponry.”

Human Rights Watch founder Ken Roth said the legal implications of using a trebuchet in this context was unclear.

“It is difficult to assess the legality of this operation because I don’t know what is on the other side of the wall,” he told i.

“If this is an effort to prevent combatants from approaching the wall, it could be legal. If it is a gratuitous attempt to burn civilian fields, it would be illegal.



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