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The riots and disturbances in Jerusalem and its outskirts in recent months have one again proven the need for non-lethal crowd dispersal means.
In fact, various innovative systems have been reviewed over the past few years, but in most cases, they were ultimately not purchased. “This is a major ****-up,” says a senior defense establishment official.
Israel’s defense establishment has looked into, for example, noise generators which create powerful, highly painful sound frequencies. Defense officials said they would require a clear confirmation the system poses no health issues before it could be introduced. They also reviewed a crowd dispersal system which uses water containing odor and paint, so that rioters could be traced even after they flee the scene.
Israel has also shown an interest in a U.S.-developed system, namely, a ray gun – a non-lethal weapon that could be used to inflict unbearable pain that would paralyze any person. This development is part of an effort to solve the issue of crowd control and violent riots without resorting to firearms.
The Pentagon unveiled this innovation a few years back: a ray gun capable of launching an electromagnetic beam that would slightly burn demonstrators, who would experience a sensation akin to touching a hotplate.
This system is being developed at a U.S. Air Force lab in New Mexico, as part of a large scale effort to develop non-lethal weapons to be used by US forces deployed as part of international peacekeeping forces.
According to the developers, the electronic beam penetrates only a few millimeters into the epidermis, so it does not cause any permanent damage – only a slight, topical burn to the outer skin.
The US Army has experimented with this ray on animals as well as on human subjects. Thus far, the investment in this project has reached $60 million, and it is yet to be determined whether the system is operational.
Crowd dispersal experts say that only crowd control means capable of operating from afar could prevent injuries and fatalities. Police officers will of course be armed with clubs, helmets, protective shields and facemasks, but the demonstrators too will not show up empty handed.