Using Water Cannons and “Skunk” in Religious Neighborhoods
On 28.1.2021, we appealed to the Commissioner of the Police, following many testimonies on the usage of water cannons and “skunk” water in religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and Bnei Brak, completely against procedures. The appeal was written by Sivan Tahel and Attorney Reut Shaer from ACRI, alongside Yaron Jackson and Attorney Efrat Bergman-Sapir from The Public Committee against Torture.
The appeal details events of using a water cannon and “skunk” water in quiet and empty streets without any disruption of public order, as well as spraying directly into closed structures, at private windows and balconies, and at businesses and vehicles, all while intentionally targeting those who are not involved in the disturbance of public order, including children and babies. From the testimonies, there is a strong suspicion that the Police had been using the water cannon and “skunk” water systematically as an enforcement and punishment mechanism against the entirety of the local population, as well as in order to deter citizens from being present in the public space - with no relation to dispersing disturbances.
The appeal also mentions that the use of “skunk” water and water cannons in this way opposes the guiding principles set forth by the verdict of the High Court, as well as police procedures. Furthermore, this mechanism is reserved for severe disturbances of public order, which manifest in violent oppositions, and are assuredly expected to bring about severe injury to the public safety of persons or property. We demanded that usage of this mechanism as punishment be halted immediately, that the events in which this use took place be investigated, and that the moderation and procedural usage of this mechanism be ensured.