Viral video falsely claims Israel sprayed sewage at al-Aqsa gates
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Viral video falsely claims Israel sprayed sewage at al-Aqsa gates

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A video of Israeli security forces spraying the area in front of Damascus Gate by Jerusalem’s Old City went viral over social media on Sunday after it was shared by a journalist who claimed that the video depicted spraying “sewage” at the “gates to al-Aqsa to discourage and disburse Palestinians.”

The video, shared by Byline Times correspondent CJ Werleman, does, in fact, depict Israeli security forces spraying the area with water, but the claim made by Werleman is filled with misconceptions.

The claim regarding the location is incorrect, as rather than depicting the “gates to al-Aqsa” as Werleman claims, the video shows the exterior of the Damascus Gate, which is one of the entrances to the Old City of Jerusalem.

Additionally, the “sewage” he claims was used against Palestinians was actually something known as “skunk water,” a type of putrid-smelling water developed by the Odortec firm as a humane and non-lethal means of riot dispersal. First used in 2008, the spray emits a noxious odor and has been described as “worse than raw sewage,” according to the BBC and like “taking a chunk of rotting corpse from a stagnant sewer, placing it in a blender and spraying the filthy liquid in your face,” according to Reuters. There is zero “sewage” actually in the water itself.

According to Odortec, the skunk water is a completely eco-friendly compound that is harmless in itself to people and the environment, and is made entirely of food-grade ingredients, notably yeast, baking powder and water, the BBC reported.

After coming under criticism for his claims, Werleman said that  Damascus Gate is, in fact, the gate to al-Aqsa because it is the gate Palestinians use to enter the Old City to worship at the al-Aqsa mosque. He further added that skunk water is a “euphemism for a toxic waste water that takes on the smell and appearance of sewage.”

An Israeli journalist pointed out that the skunk spray is used by Israeli police against Jews, specifically back in 2017, when it was used against haredim.
This is not the first time Werleman has shared information on social media regarding aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On June 16, Werleman shared a claim that 40% of Palestinian children in Israeli custody are raped, and almost 100% are tortured – a claim that has been debunked for misinformation and poor sourcing.

In the past, Israel has been accused of excessively and disproportionately using skunk water against Palestinians when compared with Jews. In addition, a report by Haaretz in 2017 claimed that despite Odortec’s claims that skunk water was completely harmless to humans, the spray “is liable to cause physical harm, such as intense nausea, vomiting and skin rashes, in addition to any injury resulting from the powerful force of the spray.”

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