Israel has said that it is holding an employee of the French consulate in Jerusalem on suspicion of smuggling weapons from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.
The French citizen, identified as Romain Franck, was arrested in mid-February but Israeli authorities only revealed the information on Monday after a gag order was lifted.
Franck is accused of smuggling a total of 70 pistols and two assault rifles, according to Israeli media reports.
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 https://t.co/UIrK5uKfos pic.twitter.com/waPsND5iv3
— CNN International (@cnni) March 19, 2018
Citing Israel’s internal security agency – the Shin Bet – Israeli news outlets said the employee was acting out of financial motives.
Several Palestinians have also been arrested in Jerusalem in suspicion of connection with the case.
#BREAKING: A French national employed by the French Consulate in Jerusalem & a #Palestinian security guard are under arrest in Israel suspected of smuggling weapons from Gaza: "admitted to having carried dozens of weapons in the last three months" (Pics: Roman Frank & his car) pic.twitter.com/MphI7BNC3R
— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) March 19, 2018
According to Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the French consulate issued a statement saying:
“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.”
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) March 18, 2018
Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist for Channel 10, said the “incident was dealt with by the highest levels in both countries to prevent diplomatic crisis”.
France agreed to the Israeli request to strip the consulate worker of his consular immunity.
(Aljazeera, PC, Social Media)