Two employees of the French consulate in eastern Jerusalem – a driver and his security guard – are suspected of involvement in smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority. The driver, Roman Frank, a French citizen, is suspected of using vehicles with diplomatic plates to transport some 70 pistols and two assault rifles, the Shabak revealed Monday morning.
The investigation was conducted in coordination with the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the French authorities.
Frank was involved in a network of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem that smuggled standard weapons from the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing. He is accused of smuggling the weapons on several occasions in recent months, using consular vehicles, which allowed him to avoid thorough security checks at the border crossing. Frank was accompanied by a security guard, who was also arrested on suspicion of involvement in the smuggling enterprise.
A senior Shabak source said “this is a very serious incident, in which the immunity and privileges granted to foreign missions in Israel were cynically exploited to smuggle weapons that may be used for terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians and security forces.”
The consulate employee received the weapons from an Arab resident of the Gaza Strip, who is employed by the local French Cultural Center. The weapons were then transferred to an Arab in Judea and Samaria who sold them to arms dealers.
Among the detainees in the smuggling operation is a resident of eastern Jerusalem who works as a security guard at the French consulate in Jerusalem, as well as Arabs from the Gaza Strip who have been staying illegally in Judea and Samaria. Nine suspects have so far been arrested, and six of them are being indicted by the Southern District Prosecutor’s Office Monday.
The investigation clearly shows that the French consulate employee acted in exchange for financial gain, on his own initiative and without the knowledge of his superiors. The investigation also revealed that some of the suspects were also involved in smuggling money from the Gaza Strip to Judea and Samaria.
Diplomatic sources said the affair would not affect Israel’s excellent relations with France, and, in fact, thanked the French authorities for their cooperation.