A French national employed at the country’s consulate in Jerusalem helped a Palestinian network smuggle six dozen guns—including two assault rifles—from the Gaza Strip to arms dealers in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). The smuggling ring was busted by the Israel Security Agency (ISA) and the Israel Police, who found that the French Consulate worker—Romain Franck—was acting for personal financial gain and of his own accord, according to an ISA press release. The Israelis kept the French regularly updated and Franck’s superiors were not aware of the illegal activity. Nonetheless, the Israelis are taking it very seriously.
“This is a very grave incident in which the immunity and privileges granted to foreign missions in Israel was cynically exploited in order to smuggle dozens of weapons which could have been used in terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and members of the security forces,” a senior ISA officer said in the press release.
Franck used a vehicle that belonged to the French consulate—which the ISA press release noted received the customary lighter security check as a foreign mission vehicle—to smuggle weapons on five different occasions in recent months.
His Palestinian contact in Gaza also had a French connection as an employee at the French Cultural Center there. Nine different suspects have been arrested so far for their activities in the smuggling plot, including an East Jerusalem resident who worked as a security guard at the French Consulate.
Guns weren’t the only items being smuggled by the ring. Some members also were involved in money smuggling from Gaza to Judea and Samaria.
Terrorists in Gaza have long sought to build up terror infrastructure in Judea and Samaria. Israel has foiled multiple smuggling networks over the years, including a recent plot that involved a Turkish national.
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, March 19, 2018)