French Consular Official Convicted on Weapons Smuggling Charges

Palestinians arrive to cross into Gaza at the Erez Crossing between Israel and Gaza. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Be’er Sheva court has convicted Roman Frank, an employee of the French Consulate in Yerushalayim, for smuggling weapons between Gaza and PA-controlled areas. Frank used his diplomatic privileges to smuggle the weapons via the Erez Crossing between Gaza and Israel, officials said.

Frank was convicted in a plea deal. Sentencing will take place at a later date, but prosecutors have asked the court to impose a sentence of seven years in prison, as agreed to in the plea deal.

Frank was able to get away with the smuggling because he hid the weapons in a vehicle belonging to the French Embassy. Diplomatic vehicles are usually not inspected as thoroughly as civilian vehicles, officials said. He smuggled weapons several times on behalf of Arab terror groups, moving at least 70 handguns and two rifles.

Frank got the weapons from a Gazan Arab, an employee of the French Cultural Center in Gaza. The weapons were delivered to a PA Arab arms merchant, who then distributed them to terror and criminal groups, officials said.

Among those arrested in the smuggling operation was an Arab resident of Yerushalayim who worked as a security guard at the consulate, as well as Gazan Arabs who were illegally in PA areas in Yehudah and Shomron who were associated with the operation. A total of nine people have been arrested in recent days in connection with the plot.

A Shin Bet official told Hadashot News that Israel considered the incident “a very serious one, with the cynical use of diplomatic immunity and rights granted to foreign officials in Israel for the purpose of smuggling weapons.” The official added that the consular employee operated the smuggling ring for financial gain, and that no other French consular or embassy officials are thought to be involved.

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