Driver for French Consulate in Jerusalem smuggled weapons from Gaza to West Bank

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By Middle East Affairs

An employee at the French Consulate in Jerusalem has admitted to smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip into West Bank using consulate vehicles, a French newspaper reported Sunday.

Haaretz said Israeli security sources have confirmed that the case exists.

French newspaper Le Figaro reports that Romain Franck, 24, was a driver for the consulate. Israeli security authorities detained him February 19 for questioning, as well as an East Jerusalem resident who worked as a security guard at the consulate and seven Gazans who were in the West Bank illegally.

Haaretz reports the driver and security guard will appear in court on Monday for smuggling weapons from Gaza to the West Bank.

According to a Shin Bet press release Franck was clearly doing this just for the money, independently and without his superiors knowing. The release also said that some of those involved smuggled cash from Gaza to the West Bank.

According to a Shin Bet statement obtained by Haaretz, Franck allegedly smuggled in about 70 guns and two rifles. “He received the weapons from a Palestinian resident of Gaza who worked at a French cultural center in Gaza, the Shin Bet said, adding that they were then transferred to an individual in the West Bank who sold them to arms dealers.”

The Shin Bet also stated that Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem were involved and that Franck transferred the weapons into Israel through the Erez border crossing, between Gaza and Israel, and that he used official consular vehicles that weren’t as “meticulously checked at the border.”

The French Embassy issued this statement: “The authorities in France are taking the incident in which one if the workers at the consulate general of France in Jerusalem is a suspect with very great seriousness. The authorities in France are cooperating with Israeli authorities.”

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