Peacekeeping: August 29, 2004

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Israel has been getting a lot of practice in peacekeeping operations over the last four years, because of the uprising by Palestinians, and counter-terrorism operations against Palestinian suicide bombers. This has led to the introduction of new non-lethal weapons. Most of these weapons are not really non-lethal, but more accurately described as less lethal. The best example of this is the rubber bullet which, even though it is much softer than a standard metal bullet, and has a lower velocity, can still cause serious injury, or even death, depending on where it hits you. Tear gas is another example. In most cases, tear gas just causes lots of tears, coughing and temporary loss of sight and lung capacity. But if you get too much of it, and are in frail health to begin with, it can be fatal. 

So Israel is going to try out two new non-lethal weapons, and one of them probably is about as non-lethal as you can get. This one can best be described as s super stink bomb. It uses the same noxious scent found in the liquid sprayed by skunks at their enemies. This odor was developed over thousands of years by natural selections. The skunks with the most repellant smell in their spray tended to drive off predators more effectively and reproduce more. Going mother nature one better, the Israeli version (a synthetic concoction of the real thing) is delivered via a liquid base that is said to keep the odor in clothing for up to five years (and numerous washings.) This means that clothing will be ruined, and that Palestinian parents, who generally dont what their kids out throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, and cannot afford to keep buying replacement clothing, will apply more pressure on their kids to cool it. It remains to be seen just how effective the big stink will be in disrupting violent protests.

The second device is way out there. Its a 120mm tank shell made of a fiberglass material that can survive being fired out of a gun barrel (at a lower velocity than a normal shell) and disintegrates into tiny, non (OK, less) lethal fragment when the shell explodes. The result is a less lethal explosion that will knock people senseless, injure and scare the hell out of them, but not necessarily kill them. Israel uses its tanks a lot in peacekeeping, and urban combat. This new flash bang shell will be a larger version of the hand grenade of the same name. Where you dont mind risking killing the people you are aiming at, but dont want to do the same to those near by, this fiberglass shell might just work. The Israelis will certainly have ample opportunities to try it out. Combative Palestinians are not about to disappear any time soon.

 


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