Israel arrests French consulate worker over Gaza gun-running | News | DW | 19.03.2018
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Israel arrests French consulate worker over Gaza gun-running

Israel says it has detained a French consulate official suspected of smuggling weapons from the West Bank into the Gaza Strip using a diplomatic vehicle. Intelligence officials claim the individual had a profit motive.

Israel's internal security agency Shin Bet on Monday said it had arrested a diplomatic official accused of smuggling weapons into Gaza.

A statement from the intelligence service said the suspect, a French citizen, had used a consulate vehicle to sneak 70 pistols and two assault rifles past security checks at the Erez crossing, on the border between Israel and Gaza.

Diplomatic vehicles are subject to less strict security checks.

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Shin Bet said the suspect was believed to be part of a Palestinian network that aimed to sell the guns on to arms dealers in the territory. The agency said the smuggling had taken place over recent months.

Suspect was Jerusalem-based

A spokesman for the French Embassy in Tel Aviv said it would cooperate with Israeli authorities. It said the suspect was a member of the consulate-general in Jerusalem.

"We take this case very seriously and we are in close contact with the Israeli authorities," said an embassy spokesman.

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Palestinian militants and Israeli troops have fought three wars over Gaza since 2008, when the Hamas-controlled enclave became subject to an Israeli blockade.

Weapons have long been smuggled into Gaza through tunnels, which are also used to hide from Israeli bombardment and for attempted attacks on Israel.

Israel has embarked on an operation to destroy all such tunnels and build a subterranean wall that would be impossible to penetrate.

rc/rt (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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