Lessons from Israeli experience

Non-lethal weaponry

Lessons from Israeli experience

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s advice to deploy non-lethal weapons to control mobs in Kashmir brings to focus the use of such weapons in similar strife-torn regions of the world. Col Daniel Reisner, a former adviser to Israeli prime ministers as well as defence forces (IDF), told a visiting group of Indian journalists recently that his country had invented several non-lethal gadgets to quell Palestinian protesters during the 1987-93 uprising called Intifada -1. These included a net dropped from a helicopter, stone throwing vehicle, a device called ‘scream’, skunk spray, painted bullets, tranquiliser bullets and rubber-coated steel bullets to name a few. 

 “During the 1987 Intifada, we invented quite a bit of riot-control equipment. Israel also sent groups of experts to tour 26 different countries and military organisations which had such capabilities. We developed new systems to meet the new threat, which means they were effective at longer ranges, to keep the people away and prevent them from coming near us into effective ranges of live-fire weapons,” he said.

The stone-throwing machine was deployed to tackle stone-pelting Palestinians, a phenomenon common in Kashmir. Reisner said that the IDF also used a `skunk’ spray which smelled so repellent that it drove people out of the area. Those who have experienced the stink have testified that it smelt like “an overpowering mix of open sewer, rotting meat and old socks that haven’t been washed for weeks.’’ The counter measures included simply putting a clothes peg over the nose.

“We also used a device that emitted penetrating bursts of sound at intervals of about 10 seconds that leaves targets reeling with dizziness and nausea,” he said referring to `Scream’. However, protesters who stuffed their ears with cotton got over it, suggesting that there is a way to neutralise almost every non-lethal weapon in the market. Reisner conceded that several unapproved non-lethal weapons like rubber-coated steel bullets and tranquilliser bullets were also used and had caused many Palestinian fatalities.
He, however, said that Israeli forces resorted to firing on stone-throwing Palestinian protesters only as a means of “self defence” during Intifada-1. Col Reisner said that there were similarities between the Palestinian Intifada and protests in Kashmir both of which started off as loosely organised confrontations.
DH News Service

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