Skunk riot dispersal device
Skunk riot dispersal deviceIDF Spokesperson's Unit

The extremist Yerushalmi Faction (Jerusalem Faction) is preparing to file a lawsuit against police over its recent use of a foul-smelling spray to disperse crowds.

Earlier this week, hundreds of members of the Jerusalem Faction blocked roads in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak as part of their ongoing protest against the continuing detention of draft dodgers from the haredi community.

Police dispersed the extremists with the assistance of the 'Skunk', a stink bomb that smells of sewers and is used for crowd control. However, police used a different method of distributing the spray. Instead of firing it from a truck as it has done before, police officers dressed in protective gear waded into the demonstration and targeted individual haredim with a mobile device that resembles a fire extinguisher.

According to the Jerusalem Faction, the new policy violates the law, contending that the guidelines regulating the 'Skunk' only permits cops to utilize it to disperse violent rioters and not as a collective law enforcement mechanism.

"There is no aspect of deterrence or dispersal. The policeman comes to you from behind and splashes into your face, this is collective punishment - regardless of what the person is doing," one person told the Behadrei Haredim website.

"If we filed lawsuits like this when they used the truck-mounted spray, the police could have claimed that it was not deliberately targeting people," another activist said. "When they started using the small sprayers, there is no room for error and if a policeman was documented spraying the face of a demonstrator, it is important to sue."

The Skunk is a crowd control weapon that was first introduced by the IDF in 2008 and is considered an improvement over other crowd control weapons such as tear gas and rubber bullets. While non-toxic, the strong smell lingers for days and is difficult to wash off in the shower.

A Reuters reporter once described it as “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.”

After police started making routine use of the Skunk against haredi demonstrators last year, Jerusalem Faction leadership urged demonstrators hit by the foul-smelling liquid to continue the protest by visiting popular landmarks around the city, as well as the Knesset.

In a voicemail sent to supporters after a protest in November, organizers of the protest said to "Let all the heretics know that you smell for the sake of defending Torah. Those who were sprayed by the Skunk should not return home immediately - they should go to the Central Bus Station, the International Convention Center (Binyanei Ha'uma) and the impure Knesset."

Members were advised to "go to the most busiest places and sit on benches. Hug the walls and make sure the smell gets everywhere."

The Jerusalem Faction has opposed any cooperation with IDF draft officials, even for the purposes of draft deferrals for yeshiva students. Most full-time yeshiva students in Israel receive deferrals from mandatory IDF service.

As a result, Faction members often get arrested for draft dodging, resulting in large noisy protests by the radical haredi group.