Two French Embassy Workers Arrested on Suspicion of Smuggling Dozens of Weapons in Irasel

Published March 19th, 2018 - 02:13 GMT
Israeli officers (AFP/File Photo)
Israeli officers (AFP/File Photo)

Two French embassy workers have been arrested by Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency on suspicion of smuggling dozens of weapons from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to the West Bank, the agency cleared for release on Monday.

One French citizen, Romain Frank, worked at the French consulate in Jerusalem, and is suspected of belonging to a cell which smuggled 70 pistols and 2 assault rifles through the Erez crossing on the Israel-Gaza border on five different occasions.

“The consulate employee has smuggled weapons on several occasions in recent months, taking advantage of the consular vehicle of the French consulate, which has facilitated the security check at the border crossing, as is customary for these vehicles,” the Shin Bet statement read.

According to the Shin Bet investigation, Frank received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of the Gaza Strip employed at the French Cultural Center in the Gaza Strip and he transferred the weapons to a cell in the West Bank who sold them to arms dealers.

The Shin Bet investigation clearly showed that Frank was acting in return for financial gain, of his own volition, and without the knowledge of his superiors. The investigation also found that several Palestinians arrested in relation to the case were also involved in the smuggling of money from Gaza to the West Bank.

"This is a very serious incident, in which the immunity and privileges granted to foreign missions in Israel was cynically exploited in order to smuggle dozens of weapons that may be used for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces,” a senior Shin Bet source said.

Mordechai called for a stricter policy for granting permits to enter and leave Israel and the Palestinian territories as "the international bodies are required to carry out internal inspections to ensure aid goes to the residents of Gaza and not to terror."

 

 

French lawmaker Meyer Habib, who represents French nationals living in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, noted that it wasn’t the first time that the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been involved in “problematic affairs.”

Habib pointed out several incidents, including in 2013 when a French consulate employee was detained after attempting to use an official vehicle to smuggle a large amount of gold, tobacco and checks into Israel from Jordan.

“This is without referring to the shameful UNESCO vote on the Temple Mount or that mail sent from the consulate to French citizens says ‘Jerusalem-Palestinian Territories,’” he added.

“For shame-even if it is a junior staff member, I have a feeling that, unfortunately, the consulate has actually become the French Embassy to the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

In addition to Frank, a resident of east Jerusalem who works as a security guard at the French consulate in Jerusalem as well as several Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who were living in the West Bank illegally were arrested and will be indicted on Monday.

The Shin Bet investigation was conducted in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Shin Bet was in consistent contact with the French authorities.

 

This article has been adapted from its original source.


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