Romain Franck, the French used by Arabs living in Gaza and Judea and Samaria to transport
The Israel Security Agency (also known as Shin Bet or Shabak for short), in conjunction with the Israel Police, announced the discovery of an Arab cell that had solicited the help of a driver at the French consulate to smuggle weapons to Judea and Samaria. Romain Franck, a 24-year-old French national who worked at the French Consulate in Jerusalem smuggled weapons five times in recent months in a vehicle belonging to the French Consulate, which received eased security checks and restrictions at the border crossing security checkpoint, as is customary for such vehicles. Franck thus smuggled approximately 70 pistols and two assault rifles, according to the Shin Bet report.
Franck received the weapons from an Arab resident of the Gaza Strip who was employed by the French Cultural Center there. After Franck received the weapons, he would smuggle them to an Arab contact in Judea and Samaria, who would then sell them to arms dealers.
Among those arrested for their involvement in the smuggling are a resident of East Jerusalem who works as a security guard at the French Consulate in Jerusalem a number of Arabs from the Gaza Strip who were found in Judea and Samaria without permits. In total, nine suspects have been arrested so far, six of whom have been indicted by the State Attorney’s Office (Southern District).
According to the indictment, Franck drove consulate staff from Israel proper to the Gaza Strip and back through the Erez border crossing in a Toyota light truck. He also had a Citroën vehicle with diplomatic plates, which he used for his own personal needs, driving from Jerusalem to Ramallah through the Qalandiya checkpoint, according to Ynet News.
(Below is a video of the arrest of some of the suspects, taken from the Israel Police Twitter account.)
תיעוד: לוחמי יחידת המסתערבים של מג"ב עוצרים חשוד בהברחת אמצעי לחימה מרצועת עזה. במסגרת חקירה של השב"כ נחשפה רשת של פלסטינים שהבריחה בחודשים האחרונים אמצעי לחימה מרצועת עזה לאיו"ש, בהם עובד בקונסוליה הצרפתית בירושלים pic.twitter.com/dnQVLziywY
— משטרת ישראל (@IL_police) March 19, 2018
According to Shin Bet, the French authorities were updated regularly with regard to what was happening under the noses of their government’s consulate and cultural center.
As compared to other countries in the European Union, France has seen a disproportionate amount acts of anti-semitism directed at members of the Jewish community living there. In January, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that France was facing a “new form of anti-Semitism” marked by violence, in reference to an assault in a Paris suburb on an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah (Jewish-religious head covering).
French lawmaker Meyer Habib, who represents French residents overseas, wrote in a Facebook post, “This is too much! This time it is in an arms trade involving agents of the consulate general of France in Jerusalem! Tomorrow, a driver and a guard from the consulate general of France in Jerusalem will be presented to an Israeli court for his using a diplomatic vehicle in arms trafficking from the Gaza strip held by Hamas to Judea-Samaria. Unfortunately, this appalling case is far from being a first in this consulate, which de facto acts as a representative of France to the Palestinian authority.”
A senior Shin Bet officer states, “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.”