JERUSALEM — An Israeli military mission to uncover Hezbollah combat positions and hidden cross-border routes has brought an ancient technology back to life, according to an expert and footage from the country’s northern border.

Photos and video uploaded to social media show reservists with the Israel Defense Forces operating a trebuchet, a catapult-type tool used in the Middle Ages, throwing fireballs over the concrete barrier separating Israel from Lebanon.

Reservists who recently spoke to the Israeli press on the condition of anonymity said they had been using the weapon since October with the purpose of revealing hidden militant positions and infiltration routes in the thicket bushes near the border. On Oct. 7, the Gaza-based militant group Hamas launched a fatal attack on Israel and took people hostage, with the Israeli government in turn launching a war against the organization in the southern territory.

Guy Stiebel a military archeology expert at Tel Aviv University, who specializes in military archeology and gives lectures as part of an IDF program, said he knows the soldier who helped built the trebuchet and confirmed to Defense News the use of the tool.

“There is a whole field in archeology called experimental archeology, which restores and builds tools such as the trebuchet for research purposes” Stiebel noted. “Among the IDF reserves there is an expert on the period and on this kind of weaponry used then, who found a solution to meet the goals set by his command.”

The weapon’s purpose is to launch beyond fortifications, like that separating the neighboring countries, which Stiebel said can reach 7-9 meters (23-30 feet).

“The trebuchet shown in the pictures is not a particularly large model of the ancient instrument, and its throwing distances were of up [to] about 50 or 60 meters,” he added. “It should be noted that advanced technology cannot always provide solutions, but although there are ancient simple ones that can do the job like the trebuchet, the latter was not been adopted by the Israeli Artillery Corps.”

When contacted by Defense News, the IDF did not deny the existence of the trebuchet nor its use by reservists in the north, but it also declined to comment on the topic.

Tzally Greenberg is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has experience reporting on economic affairs as well as defense and cyber companies.

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