Sunday, 5 October 2008

A Foul Smell in the Air

What do you do with a group of people who continually rebel against you for putting up a twenty feet high concrete wall just feet away from their home, preventing them from getting to their land, their work, their family ?
Well you could cut off their water and their electricity when ever you felt like it, without their knowledge. Or you could burst into people’s homes and arrest them for some alleged crime such as throwing rocks at your soldiers. If they try to intervene you could shoot them at close range with rubber- coated steel bullets. This might smash their jaw, fracture their skull or blind them if you get them right in the eye.


This is what Israeli soldiers did to a man in the Palestinian West Bank town of Nilin, 3 weeks ago. It is a miracle that the man is alive – losing his sight in only one eye is little consolation, I think. After an “investigation” Israel has decided that the soldier acted properly in firing the shots, when the man tried to prevent his brother from being taken away.

There are regular, often violent protests in this area where the West Bank barrier divides the Jewish settlements from the Palestinian. But the force that has been used is clearly disproportionate and this is now being recognised by the authorities.
So Israel has now started to use a new, non-lethal offensive weapon – a foul smelling substance called Skunk, which is sprayed extensively from a water cannon machine.
As the name suggests, the substance smells revolting and no matter how much scrubbing and cleaning, it takes at least three days to remove it from your body. It is apparently organic with no “ illegal chemicals” in it – just yeast and baking powder and some secret ingredients.
The Israeli police say that it is very effective and totally harmless – you can even drink it, though why you would want to is not clear. They intend marketing Skunk, selling it to law-enforcement agencies around the world.

To stink to high heaven for a few days for an alleged disorder offence or to be caught as an innocent bystander with this putrid substance is clearly preferable to losing an eye, or your life with a rubber or real bullet.
But there still remains hundreds being killed or seriously injured on a regular basis within the West Bank and surely spending time and money on a peaceful solution to the critical situation there would be a more beneficial option.

We can but hope and pray that this may one day happen.