Ultra-Orthodox sue to stop police use of skunk spray

The four haredi Orthodox plaintiffs have claimed that the use of skunk spray in dense urban neighborhoods constitutes collective punishment and a “grave violation of human rights.”

By SAM SOKOL/JTA
August 14, 2018 03:06
1 minute read.
Police officers confront a massive protest of Haredim outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, November 201

Police officers confront a massive protest of Haredim outside a synagogue in Jerusalem, November 2017 . (photo credit: HAREDI EXTREMISTS PROTESTS GROUP)

 
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JERUSALEM  — Several Haredi residents of Jerusalem have petitioned the High Court of Justice to stop the police’s use “skunk spray,” a foul-smelling chemical compound initially developed for use against Palestinian rioters. Last year the police started using the spray against fervently ultra-Orthodox rioters protesting the draft.

According to the Haredi news website Behadrei Haredim, the four Haredi plaintiffs have claimed that the use of skunk spray in dense urban neighborhoods constitutes collective punishment and a “grave violation of human rights.”

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Two of them complained that their shops suffered thousands of shekels of damage due to the spray when it was used against nearby demonstrators. A third complained of police shooting the spray onto his balcony as he watched a protest. He said the spray entered his home, causing damage and injuring one of his grandchildren.

Members of the Jerusalem Faction, which was founded by the late Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, regularly hold protests against the IDF in which they block streets and clash with police. Nearly 50 protesters were arrested in Jerusalem earlier this month after blocking a major street during such a protest.

“They spray it on us in direct trajectory, on purpose,” one yeshiva student said in describing the skunk spray to Haaretz last year. “Whomever it hits is flung a few meters back and falls down. I took it directly in the back a few times. I’m not even talking about the horrible smell, which is indescribable, but there’s no doubt that they are trying to injure you deliberately.”

A video posted to YouTube last year showed a bystander hit by skunk spray and thrown several feet during a protest down the street from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station.

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