Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 01 September 2014/06 Dhul Qa’dah 1435
“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.”
This is how BBC reporter Wyre Davies, in 2008, described the new Israeli weapon that until today is still kicking up a stink in the Occupied Palestinian territories.
The Skunk, as it is known in Israeli military circles, may seem an innocuous armament in a Zionist arsenal that includes lethal F-16′s, drones, hellfire missiles, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber coated metal bullets; but for Palestinians it is simply the latest ugly manifestation of a putrid, decades-long Israeli strangulation of their daily lives.
Developed by researchers at the Israeli Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd. in 2004, the “skunk bomb” is described by the IDF as a ‘non lethal’ weapon that could be used by security forces in riot control situations.
Rafael scientists reportedly analyzed and created a synthetic version of the liquid squirted by skunks when they are under stress. The device, designed to be fired from a distance in order to disperse crowds, has a disgusting smell that lingers in its victim’s clothing for up to five years.
Palestinians on the receiving end of the stench know this too well.
Rubhiya Abd al-Rahman Darwish was taking a nap on the couch of her family home in June when she was awoken with a start by the sound of shattering glass.
“I saw a burst of water breaking through the window, when suddenly an intense odor hit and I passed out from the smell, so they had to take me to the hospital,” the 75-year-old woman told the Ma’an News Agency during an interview in her small apartment in Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp.
Although she is used to Israeli soldiers throwing tear gas canisters into the alleyway beside her home, Darwish was surprised to find that this time they had come with a cannon to hose down the sides of local homes with putrid-smelling water.
“I went to the hospital and they gave me a shot, but the poison started coming out of my mouth and nose. I started screaming because my back was hurting, and it hasn’t stopped,” the elderly woman, who said she suffers from diabetes, hypertension, and a heart condition, told Ma’an.
“All my clothes were ruined, and we had to throw all the quilts and mattress out,” she said.
“Why do they do this to us?”
Israel says the Skunk is among a bouquet of new ‘harmless’ options it is making available to troops for controlling Palestinian demonstrations. It says the recipe for the foul-smelling water is based entirely on natural organic ingredients, including yeast and baking powder, and does not include any harmful materials. It may even be ingested without any ill effects, it claims.
Human rights organizations however claim that skunk liquid 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. Children and the elderly are also particularly vulnerable to nausea and vomiting if sprayed.
Contrary to Israeli claims that the weapon is only deployed in compromising situations, there are allegations that the skunk is being used punitively against villages where regular weekly demonstrations are held. There are also incidents on record of Israeli forces targeting schoolchildren and even animals with the substance in jest.
The recent upsurge in suppression of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, the largest since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, also witnessed a marked increase in Israeli use of “Skunk” water in heavily populated Palestinian neighborhoods.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has documented incidences of Skunk water being used on the second floor of commercial and residential buildings in densely populated areas of Jerusalem like Saladin and Zahra Street during times when there were no riots, leaving behind a foul-smelling stench for days.
The aftermath of such raids are equally vexing for residents to handle with a stench hanging over affected neighborhoods days after the initial shower occurred.
“People don’t even know what the substance in is in order to clean it,” one resident told Ma’an, “and we do not know what the chemicals are made of. We tried to clean it with chlorine but there was a chemical reaction, giving off an even more killer smell,” he added.
In winter the smell allegedly stays put for almost 2 weeks. Adverse effects have also reportedly been observed on plants and trees in the vicinity.
“This chemical could have effects that we don’t know about, on the nature in the camp, and on the future generations,” the resident conveyed.
The big stink is that having been repeatedly ‘tested’ on the Palestinians, the inventors now plan to market the Skunk to other forces worldwide. The BBC reports of Israeli police plans to commercialise the skunk spray and sell it to law-enforcement agencies around the world.
Yet again, another compelling case for isolating Israel before its putrid gangrenous ways go viral.