Israeli police spray Skunk water to repel rioters, July 17, 2009.
Israeli security forces have been using water cannons packed with the Skunk stink spray against Arab rioters for more than ten years now, and with great effectiveness. But when the Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) tested it on rowdy crowds on the subcontinent, it turned out to be an abysmal failure.
The “Skunk” is a malodorant, non-lethal weapon used by the IDF for crowd control and marketed to armies and police forces the world over. It was developed and is manufactured by Odortec, with two local companies, Man and Beit-Alfa Technologies. It is described by the manufacturer as a pungent, foul-smelling – yet completely non-toxic – liquid spray, which quickly disperses the most determined of violent demonstrators with no casualties.
Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel have been critical of the IDF’s use of the Skunk. Skunk was criticized in a joint 2016 Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO) report on crowd control weapons published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
The Arabs who have been doused with the Skunk call it by the same expletive used for human waste and say it smells like untreated sewage. The odor lasts for days, even after multiple showers.
A reporter for Reuters described the Skunk: “Imagine taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face. Your gag reflex goes off the charts and you can’t escape, because the nauseating stench persists for days.”
Not in India.
The Hindustan Times reported last week that The CRPF decided to test a few samples of the Israeli product in new Delhi, and found it ineffective. A senior CRPF official told the newspaper: “We used it on a captive crowd consisting of CRPF personnel and general public. But they managed to tolerate the smell without much difficulty. Maybe Indians have a higher threshold of tolerating stench.”
“Those who can ignore the smell can drink the liquid too,” the official noted.
So there’s your thought-provoking story for the start of a new summer week, with record global heat waves and forest fires, angry riots and a planet where one man’s sewer is another man’s drinking water, if you can ignore the smell.