Sandak protest: Police spray “skunk” at residential buildings

Water cannon with “the skunk”; Photo credit: Free use

Honenu is representing those who are insisting on the investigation of the death of Ahuvia Sandak, z”l, who was tragically killed in a police car chase on Tevet 6 5781/ December 21, 2020, and defending the many who are being detained while demonstrating for change in police behavior. The car Ahuvia was in with four other boys overturned when the police car collided with it from behind. Please click here for a list of posts connected to the case.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 13:15 “The skunk” is a non-lethal, foul-smelling liquid used with a water cannon as a means of crowd control during protests.

In a response to an inquiry from Honenu, the Israeli Police admitted to spraying a water cannon with “the skunk” at residential and public buildings in Jerusalem during protests at the entrance to the city calling for a thorough investigation of the circumstances of the death of Ahuvia Sandak, z”l. Honenu Attorney Menashe Yado sent a letter to the police in light of the many complaints the organization had received from protesters and residents of the area. Protesters were injured by spray from water cannons, even though they were outside of the main area of the protest. Residents of the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood of Jerusalem and the surrounding area suffered the effects of “the skunk” for days after the protest.

Honenu asked the police for clarification regarding the disproportionate and massive use of “the skunk” on citizens who were not involved with the protests. The letter sent by Yado is summarized below:

Honenu has received more than a few testimonies and complaints about the unreasonable use of “the skunk”.  Spraying “the skunk” was prima facie contrary to the law for two reasons: spraying into a building was contrary to the directive of the High Court of Justice concerning use of “the skunk” in urban areas, and the spray caused unreasonable damage to residents of a building. Also, spraying at the protesters who were not standing in the front line adjacent to the street and who did not pose a substantial danger to a traffic artery was a violation of the freedom to protest.

The Rabbi Kook Institute (Mossad HaRav Kook) complained about serious and extensive damage. The publishing center, the offices, and all of the vehicles in the parking lot stank due to spray from “the skunk”. Employees and customers, including pregnant women, were subjected to the stench from the absolutely illegal and unrestrained use of “the skunk”. This damage must be stopped.

We do not take lightly the duty of the police to maintain order during protests. Nevertheless, the use of the measures mentioned above and in the complaints we received is unnecessarily aggressive. Such use does not comply with the directives of the High Court of Justice issued last August and is not in accordance with the obligations of the police.

Demonstrators must be allowed their freedom to protest, and the police must differentiate between the disorderly and the general group of protesters. Indiscriminate use of police power deprives the public of their freedom to protest. As required by law, the police must use alternative, more lenient, and less sweeping measures.

Water cannon with “the skunk”; Video credit: Free use

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