On 11 January 2013 Corporate Watch witnessed Ford vehicles, fitted with Good Year tyres, being used to repress demonstrations in the occupied West Bank. As Who Profits? has previously reported Ford vehicles are used by the Israeli Occupation Forces’s (IOF) Caracal combat unit and Ford F550 trucks have been adapted by the Israeli company Hatehof into armoured personnel carriers for use by the IOF. Hatehof is majority owned by the owner of the Solor Group, a company which partly operates out of the infamous settlement industrial zone Nitzanei Shalom in Tulkarem.
Some of the Israeli police forces operating in An Nabi Saleh on the same date were also using Ford vehicles.
The armoured F550 Ford model can also be used to fire ‘skunk water’ at anyone within its range. Skunk is a ‘non-lethal’ weapon which has been used for crowd control by the IOF since late 2008. It is a hideous, foul smelling substance, reminiscent of strong sewage water, fired indiscriminately from a water cannon at people in villages where demonstrations are taking place. It is usually introduced into a demonstration suddenly, and often people have to make a choice whether to run away from the skunk, the tear gas or the rubber bullets. It is surprising how often people choose the skunk.
Although Israeli government sources insist that the skunk water consists only of yeast, baking powder and organic ingredients (although some of them are secret), the effect of being sprayed does not feel harmless; people coming into contact with the weapon frequently experience nausea and sometimes vomiting. Visiting a community which has been skunked a week after the event can still make you gag. The odour will generally take around three days to wear off, no matter how many times you shower and scrub yourself, and if you have been badly hit you will stink out any house you enter within seconds. In this sense, skunk use has a real detrimental effect on people’s lives over and above the physical impact. The IOF has been known to deliberately target people’s homes with skunk, and likes to contaminate areas communally used by a people, such as the square in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
According to Who Profits, all Ford contracts with the Israeli army have been supplied as part of US military aid. Ford is represented in Israel by The Delek Group. Ford’s head office is in America, but the company operates worldwide. In the UK, the company can be contacted here.