French consul worker arrested for smuggling weapons from Gaza
Posted March 19, 2018 4:16 a.m. EDT
JERUSALEM (CNN) — A worker at the French Consulate in Jerusalem has been arrested for smuggling weapons from Gaza into East Jerusalem and the West Bank using his diplomatic immunity, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) announced Monday after a joint investigation with Israeli police.
According to the ISA, Romain Franck, a 24-year-old French citizen, smuggled 70 guns and two assault rifles through the Erez Border Crossing between Gaza and Israel using a consular vehicle, which goes through reduced security checks because of its diplomatic status.
Franck allegedly smuggled weapons through the crossing on five separate occasions over the last two months, the ISA said.
"We're talking about the most severe incident in which cynical use has been made of diplomatic immunity and the rights that were given to foreign representatives in Israel in order to smuggle weapons that could be used in terror attacks against citizens and security force members," said an ISA official in a statement about the investigation.
Franck obtained the weapons from a Palestinian in Gaza who worked at the French Cultural Center, the ISA said, and then sold them to a person in the West Bank, who then transferred them to illegal weapons dealers.
Franck smuggled the weapons in order to make a profit, the ISA said. His superiors were not aware of what he was doing.
A total of nine suspects were arrested, including a resident of East Jerusalem who worked as a security guard at the French Consul in Jerusalem and Palestinians from Gaza who were in the West Bank illegally. Six suspects will be indicted today in Southern District Court.
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also participated in the investigation with full cooperation from French authorities, the ISA added.
The French Embassy in Tel Aviv told CNN it would not comment on the matter but confirmed it will "issue a statement later."