Police departments in the United States are reported to have bought a foul-smelling liquid developed in Israel to repel protesters. What is “skunk” and how is it used, asks Yolande Knell.

It is a truly putrid stench. Palestinians who have been sprayed describe it as “worse than raw sewage” and “like a mixture of excrement, noxious gas and a decomposing donkey”.

Invented by Israeli firm Odortec, skunk water was first used by the Israeli military against demonstrators in the occupied West Bank in 2008. Since then armoured vehicles equipped with water cannon spraying jets of the stinky liquid have become a regular sight.

Although it may induce a gagging reflex, the company says skunk is made from “100% food-grade ingredients” and is “100% eco-friendly – harmless to both nature and people”.

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