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Israeli troops catapult fireball into Lebanon using weapon rarely used since 16th century

Benjamin Brown, Gianluca Mezzofiore, Paul Murphy and Christian Edwards

Israeli troops have used a medieval-style catapult to toss fireballs across the border into Lebanon, as fighting ramps up between Israel and the Iran-backed Islamist group Hezbollah.

The trebuchet, a rotating arm with a sling attached to launch a projectile, has rarely been used since the 16th century.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the catapult was “a local initiative” and had not “come into widespread use,” Israeli public broadcaster and CNN affiliate Kan reported Thursday.

Kan said the trebuchet was probably used to burn shrubbery, making it easier for Israeli forces to identify militants attempting to reach the border. CNN has asked the IDF for comment.

A video of the catapult in action was posted on social media on Wednesday. CNN could not verify when the footage was filmed but geolocated it to the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Clashes at Lebanon-Israel border

Fighting continues on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel where Hezbollah — a Lebanese armed group backed by Iran — has its main area of operations. Israel has ordered the evacuation of communities along the Lebanese border. Since the start of the Hamas-Israel war on October 7, Israel’s flare-up with Hezbollah has intensified in this border region.

While there have been reports of catapults being used by Ukrainian demonstrators during the Euromaidan protests in 2014, and by Syrian rebels in 2013, the weapon is a relic of bygone military ages.

One of the last recorded uses of a large-scale trebuchet in warfare was by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés against the Aztecs during the assault on Tenochtitlán, Mexico in 1521, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The use of trebuchets and other catapults began to dwindle after the invention of modern gunpowder artillery in the 15th century.

The video comes after cross-border attacks from Lebanon led to large fires blazing through the north of Israel last week, consuming swaths of land and leading to the evacuation of residents.

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