Some weapons are deadly, destructive and accurate. And some just stink really bad. Even though Israel’s Skunk does not kill or injure its targets, it is an unbelievably effective crowd control weapon that you definitely don’t want to meet.

Protests and even violent demonstrations are not uncommon in Israel, especially by the borders with Gaza Strip and West Bank. Israel Defense Forces use a variety of crowd control methods, which sometimes cause a lot of irreversible damage. For example, back in 2003 a 21 year old Israeli demonstrator Gil Na’amati was shot near the West Bank. After this incident (and many others), Israeli defense technology company Rafael began developing Skunk – a new kind of crowd control method.

Skunk is a strong non-lethal malodorant crowd control weapon. Nowadays it is manufactured by Odortec, with two supporting companies – Man and Beit-Alfa Technologies. It is a commercial product and its recipe is a commercial secret. But we do know that the very base of Skunk is baking powder and yeast. It is a completely non-toxic yellow fluid, which works simply by smelling like rotting bodies and open sewage.

This is just a water cannon, but it is loaded with Skunk. (טל קינג, Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

The smell of Skunk is difficult to describe, but it is very strong and not easily washed off. In fact, if Skunk gets onto your clothes, you may as well throw them away – that smell is going to stay in the fabric for up to 5 years. Even from the body it doesn’t wash off that well – that incredible stench stays with you for days, regardless of how much you shower. Just knowing that people run away from water cannons loaded with Skunk – if you want to work, go to school or even stay in house with your family, you cannot smell like that. Of course, there is a special soap sold to officers, who may get sprayed accidentally while trying to control the raging crowd.

Skunk is a yellow liquid, usually sprayed from water cannons or handheld sprayers. (טל קינג,Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

It was tested in US and was regarded as highly effective. Meanwhile in India it was completely useless. People, who participated in testing, had no problem tolerating the smell and could even drink the liquid without much issue.

Although Skunk is not lethal, it can cause some damage. Water cannons spray the liquid at a very high pressure, which can penetrate the skin or hurt the eyes. In some instances Skunk causes rashes. Also, the stench itself can cause excessive coughing and vomiting.

The smell of Skunk lingers in the area for days. Even from the body it doesn’t wash off easily and you have to throw away your clothes. (יורם שורק,Wikimedia(CC BY-SA 3.0)

Finally, Skunk is criticized for its widespread effect. It affect the entire street, where it’s been used. This means that business and just local residents suffer from its smell, regardless of their position during protests.


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