Infantry Weapons

IDF rapidly developing non-lethal systems for Gaza border

08 July 2019

The IDF had developed two different sprays: one stains skin blue, while the other is foul smelling. Source: IDF Spokesman Unit

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have in recent months deployed a number of new non-lethal weapons and crowd-control measures on the border with the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to give its Gaza Division new tools to deal with weekly disturbances organised by the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Lieutenant Colonel Mikki Barel, head of the Ballistic Protection and Survivability Branch, which is a part of the Ground ForcesTechnological Branch, briefed Jane's about the intensive development of these systems following the disturbances on the Israel-Gaza border since March 2018.

The disturbances initially involved massed attempts to cross into Israel, evolving to include rioters throwing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and sending kites and balloons carrying IEDs and incendiary devices across the border.

"All of these things caused us to launch a reassessment based on the question of how to deal with new threats and still keep them non-lethal," Lt Col Barel said.

One of the responses came in the form the Sea of Tears: a type of multirotor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can drop standard tear gas canisters over rioters approaching the border fence. "[It] can drop tear gas deep in Gazan territory," he said. "We know that once rioters are just metres from the fence, this becomes an incident that is much more dangerous and explosive. If we can disperse them far from the fence that will decrease the chance of them reaching the border."

New liquid crowd-control sprays have been deployed in two forms: one is a blue liquid that sticks to people, taking around a day to come off, the second is a liquid that "gives off a very harsh smell and causes people to disperse", Lt Col Barel said. The latter can also be sprayed on the ground, deterring rioters from approaching.

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