Fri, 21 Sep 2018

French Consulate worker arrested for smuggling weapons

By Sheetal Sukhija, Montreal News
20 Mar 2018, 07:20 GMT+10

JERUSALEM, Israel - Authorities in Israel have detained a French Consulate worker in Jerusalem on charges of smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip into the West Bank.

French Newspaper Le Figaro identified the French Diplomatic driver as 24-year-old Roman Franck, a French national, who was detained by Israeli authorities while leaving Gaza at the Erez border crossing.

According to authorities, the man had been using his diplomatic vehicle as cover to smuggle pistols and assault rifles. 

Officials said that in the three preceding months, Franck had reportedly transported 70 factory-made pistols and two assault rifles from the desert enclave to the West Bank.

Further, reports in the French press stated that Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said Franck and his accomplices had exploited the privileges granted to foreign diplomatic missions.

Shin Bet added in its statement that the driver had “acted for financial profit, on his own initiative and without the knowledge of his superiors.”

Reports pointed out that Franck is not believed to have been ideologically motivated to carry out his alleged crimes and did not support any Palestinian militant group.

Officials said that the guns were supplied by a Palestinian employed by the French Cultural Center in Gaza.

The French national has been accused of using a consulate-owned SUV, which would not have been so thoroughly checked because of its diplomatic status, to carry out the smuggling.

In a report, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said that an East Jerusalem resident who had worked as a security guard at the French consulate and some Gazans living illegally in the West Bank were also detained in relation to the operation.

After the revelations emerged, the French Embassy in Tel Aviv said in a statement that it considers the incident to be very serious and added that its staff are cooperating with Israeli authorities.

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