The Defense Ministry has invested more than NIS 75 million (roughly $22 million) in purchasing non-lethal weapons to disperse mass protests in preparation for possible September riots.
The Ministry is gearing up for possible riots in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and inside Israel following the Palestinian plan to seek UN membership. Defense Ministry Director-General Udi Shani ordered the allocation of funds from the ministry’s budget as well as from foreign aid for the purchase of sophisticated crowd dispersal means.
Last May the IDF lacked appropriate means to prevent the infiltration of Palestinians from Syria and Lebanon during the "Nakba" and "Naksa" day events forcing the troops to use live ammunition. The IDF was criticized for causing injury to non-armed individuals.
The crowd dispersal means will be divided between the police and the army: Police will get NIS 40 million-worth of equipment and the IDF will receive the equivalent of NIS 35 million. The majority of the non-lethal weapons will arrive in Israel towards September.
The Defense Ministry purchased gas grenades, "Federal" rifles mounted on vehicles and water tanks that can carry 2,500 liters to be installed on vehicles. The police and the IDF will have at least 17 vehicles with water spraying systems at their disposal by September.
The Ministry also purchased a small amount of electroshock taser guns to be used against protestors standing close to security forces, as well as a large amount of gas grenades, helmets and protective gear.
But the "star" acquisition is "the skunk" – a strong-scented substance which causes nausea and vomiting. The IDF will spray the substance from the ground or from the air in clashes with rioters. The Defense Ministry purchased massive amounts of "the skunk" which is manufactured in Israel. A senior security official described the acquisitions as a "dramatic step up in the security forces preparedness."
Golan fence to be set up
The army examined other possibilities such as purchasing a US-made microwave system that can paralyze anyone coming 100 meters from it. Israel did not acquire the system and the Americans themselves do not use it due to opposition from environmental and human rights groups.
IDF and police forces have already began training with the new weapons. The Defense Ministry has also invested NIS 50 million in the construction of a 12-km fence in the Golan Heights.
Security officials estimated the most likely scenario in September will be riots and protests across the West Bank including the blocking of roads and hurling of stones.
The protests might also extend beyond the Green Line, and on Israel’s borders with Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and the Gaza Strip. They also estimated that the general mood may prompt "popular terror acts" like firing on roads and junctions.
The government is also preparing for the possibility of marches towards settlements and riots in the style of Bilin and Naalin.