Friday, October 03, 2008

BBC says latest Israeli weapon spray stinks



Accusations that Israel is using disproportionate force in political hot-spots like Nilin, in the West Bank, have spurred security troops to deploy a new, non-lethal but highly effective and highly-offensive weapon. The BBC News correspondent Wyre Davies is still reeling after whiffing the stuff.


It's called Skunk.

Imagine the worst, most foul thing you have ever smelled. An overpowering mix of rotting meat, old socks that haven't been washed for weeks - topped off with the pungent waft of an open sewer.

Imagine being covered in the stuff as it is liberally sprayed from a water cannon.

Then imagine not being able to get rid of the stench for at least three days, no matter how often you try to scrub yourself clean.

The beauty of Skunk - if beauty is the right word - is that it is said to be completely organic.

No illegal chemicals, no proscribed substances - just a thoroughly disgusting mix of yeast, baking powder and a few other "secret" ingredients.

The Israeli police force has high hopes of turning Skunk into a commercial venture and selling it to law-enforcement agencies overseas.

Superintendent David Ben Harosh treats Skunk as something of a pet project. The way he hugged the litre bottle of dirty, green liquid close to his chest as we talked was odd - most people would surely keep it at arm's length.

"It's totally harmless, you can even drink it," boasted Superintendent Harosh - as though encouraging me to swallow a mouthful.

Reporters will sometimes go the "extra mile" to add authenticity to their story, but not this time. No way.

For human rights groups, the jury is still out on Skunk. They object to the arbitrary way in which innocent bystanders can be soaked with the stuff - having to suffer for days afterwards.

Then again, protestors and villagers are still being killed and seriously injured in the West Bank by more conventional weapons.

As unpleasant and as disgusting as it is, being sprayed with Skunk may ultimately be preferable to being hit by a rubber-coated bullet or choking and vomiting under the effects of tear-gas or pepper-spray.

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