[News] Will Israel’s “whiff from hell” weapon be used to crush US protests?

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jun 15 11:37:21 EDT 2015


  Will Israel’s “whiff from hell” weapon be used to crush US protests?

Rania Khalek <https://electronicintifada.net/people/rania-khalek> 12 
June 2015
*https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/will-israels-whiff-hell-weapon-be-used-crush-us-protests*

US police departments are interested in procuring the foul-smelling 
skunk water that Israeli forces routinely use on Palestinians, according 
to /The Economist/.

/The Economist/, which refers to skunk water as “a whiff from hell,” 
reports 
<http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21653624-skunk-high-tech-israeli-weapon-against-stone-throwers-whiff-hell> 
that the weapon “has attracted the interest of law-enforcement agencies 
in America which, after riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, crave better 
ways to scatter rioters without killing or injuring them.”

Developed by Odortec, an Israeli company that specializes in scent-based 
weapons for law enforcement, in collaboration with the Israeli police, 
skunk water emits a stench that has been described as a cross between a 
rotting animal corpse, raw sewage and human excrement. The smell is so 
strong that Israeli police refuse 
<http://www.haaretz.com/making-a-stink-1.253207> to store the substance 
inside their stations.

Released at high pressure from a water cannon attached to the top of a 
military truck, the skunk odor sticks to walls, clothing, hair and skin 
for days and is impossible to wash away. Ramallah-based activist and 
writer Mariam Barghouti once told 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/patrick-strickland/israel-sprays-skunk-water-palestinian-homes> 
The Electronic Intifada’s Patrick Strickland that “the water lingers on 
your skin to a point when you want to rip your skin off.”

First used by Israeli border police officers in 2008, skunk water has 
become a fixture in villages that engage in weekly demonstrations 
against the Israeli wall in the occupied West Bank. It’s also frequently 
deployed against 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/video-palestinians-cheer-israeli-skunk-truck-crashes-ravine> 
Palestinian neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, where there is a 
concerted effort by the Israeli government to remove and replace 
Palestinian residents with Jewish settlers.

While Odortec insists skunk spray is non-toxic and even drinkable, the 
Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) warns 
<http://www.acri.org.il/en/2014/08/10/skunk-ej/> that it “can cause pain 
and redness if it comes into contact with eyes, irritation if it comes 
into contact with skin and if swallowed can cause abdominal pain 
requiring medical treatment.”


    Environmental terrorism

Israeli police have argued that skunk water is strictly used for crowd 
dispersal, but this claim is easily refuted. 
<http://whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/weapons_report-8.pdf>

Israeli forces regularly douse entire Palestinians neighborhoods 
<http://972mag.com/watch-police-spray-putrid-water-on-palestinian-homes-schools/98840/> in 
skunk water, deliberately spraying it into private homes 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/patrick-strickland/israel-sprays-skunk-water-palestinian-homes>, 
businesses and schools 
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/palestinian-parents-tell-israeli-police-stop-harassing-jerusalem-children/14267> in 
what the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem calls “a collective 
punitive measure <http://www.btselem.org/publications/2012_alfa/skunk>” 
against Palestinian villages that engage in protest against Israel’s 
colonial violence.

Just last month, Israeli forces were photographed chasing five-year-old 
Muhammad Riyad with a skunk truck at a demonstration in the West Bank 
town of Kafr Qaddum <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/kafr-qaddum>. 
The photos <https://www.maannews.com/Content.aspx?id=765453> show 
Muhammad running and tripping over a pile of rocks, which sends his tiny 
body plunging face first into the ground, as he’s drenched in skunk water.

No Palestinian is safe from the skunk truck, not children, not their 
homes, not even the dead.

In 2012, Israeli forces showered a funeral procession 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adhGYqdjIsg> in Hebron with skunk 
water, soaking mourners and the body of the deceased.

The substance is being marketed as a safe alternative to more lethal 
means of crowd dispersal. But since its introduction into the Israeli 
arsenal, Israeli forces have continued to indiscriminately injure and 
kill Palestinian protesters and non-protesters alike with 
the traditional assortment of tear gas 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/tear-gas>, rubber-coated steel 
bullets 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/patrick-strickland/palestinian-child-loses-eye-rubber-coated-bullet-fired-israel>, 
sponge-tipped bullets 
<http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.652239> and live fire 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/nora-barrows-friedman/human-rights-defender-among-three-palestinians-killed-live-fire-west>. 


If anything, skunk water has added a new humiliating dimension to the 
terror Israel inflicts on Palestinians. After all, what better way to 
strip the subjugated and colonized of their dignity than to poison them 
and their surroundings with a feces-like stench so intolerable it makes 
someone want to rip off his or her own skin?


    Exporting repression

It’s no accident that Odortec was founded by a management team at the 
Israeli company Flybuster <http://www.fly-buster.com/About%2Dus.html>, a 
firm that develops scent-based chemicals to repel and kill 
insects. Odortec simply applied Flybuster’s pesticide logic to 
Palestinians, who Israeli leaders have long viewed as subhuman 
contaminants comparable to insects 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/07/29/israel-s-foes-as-beasts-and-insects/>. 


And like most Israeli weapons, skunk water is advertised as having been 
“field-tested,” which almost always means that Palestinians were used as 
human test subjects during the development process.

According to Odortec’s website 
<http://www.skunk-skunk.com/121755/The%2DProduct>, “skunk has been 
field-tested and proven to disperse even the most determined of violent 
protests” effectively “breaking adversarial resistance.”

While Gaza serves as a playground 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/sixty-percent-global-drone-exports-come-israel-new-data> for 
larger weapons 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israel-firing-experimental-weapons-gazas-civilians-say-doctors>, 
the West Bank is Israel’s preferred laboratory for testing 
<http://whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/weapons_report-8.pdf%20http://english.al-akhbar.com/node/1639> 
and refining crowd control technology.

David Ben Harosh, head of the Israeli police’s department 
for technological development  — which partnered with Odortec to develop 
skunk water — stated in 2008 that skunk water was tested in “monitored 
exercises <http://www.haaretz.com/making-a-stink-1.253207>” in the 
Palestinian villages of Bilin 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bilin> and Nilin 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/nilin>, which he referred to as an 
“experiment.”

“After each spraying an observation of the area was conducted, to check 
if there were casualties, to see how the demonstrators reacted,” Ben 
Harosh stated.

So far there has been no reported use of skunk spray outside 
of Palestine. But Israeli police and Odortec have been marketing the 
product to law enforcement agencies around the globe since its inception.

As the BBC reported <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7646894.stm> 
in 2008, “The Israeli police force has high hopes of turning skunk into 
a commercial venture and selling it to law-enforcement agencies overseas.”

/The Economist/ states, “A report this week that skunk is now being sold 
to American local police departments was initially confirmed by a 
Maryland-based company claiming to be the vendor, but then swiftly 
retracted. The company’s website, which offered the stuff in 
various-sized canisters, has since gone offline.”

Though /The Economist/ does not identify the company, it is likely 
Mistral Security <http://www.mistralsecurityinc.com>, a subsidiary of 
Mistral Group 
<http://http://www.mrg.rs/en/programs/drugs-and-explosives-detection/mistral/>, 
a US company based in Bethesda, Maryland, that deals in the production 
and sale of military and law enforcement equipment.

The only crowd control weapon Mistral Security currently markets to US 
law enforcement is skunk spray, which is featured 
<http://www.mistralsecurityinc.com/Our-Products/Crowd-Control-Skunk> on 
its website in a variety of delivery systems, including canisters, 
grenades and bulk containers for water cannons. Mistral’s product 
brochure 
<http://www.mistralinc.com/portals/mistralinc/Images/product-photos/Final%20-%20Skunk%20Product%20Brochure%204.13.2015.pdf> 
advertises skunk as ideal for controlling crowds and individuals at 
“border crossings, correctional facilities, demonstrations and sit-ins.”

Mistral did not to respond to inquiries about which police agencies have 
expressed interest in purchasing skunk water. Neither did Odortec.

However, US police departments taking repression cues from Israel is not 
a new phenomenon.

Under the cover of counterterrorism training, senior commanders from 
nearly every major American police department, including Baltimore 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israeli-trained-police-invade-baltimore-crackdown-black-lives-matter> and 
St. Louis 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/israel-trained-police-occupy-missouri-after-killing-black-youth>, 
have traveled to Israel for lessons in occupation enforcement. 
Such trips provide Israeli companies like Odortec with the opportunity 
to market their technology 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/lapd-goes-israel-falls-love-drones-and-mass-surveillance> 
directly to US law enforcement executives.

With the Black Lives Matter uprising challenging and exposing America’s 
corrupt and racist system of policing, it makes sense that US police 
would look to their Israeli counterparts for “field-tested” methods in 
breaking resistance. In this instance, the weapon in question is as 
rotten as it smells.

-- 
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