Jerusalem, Mar 19 (AFP) A French consulate worker has been arrested on accusations of using an official car to smuggle dozens of guns from the Gaza Strip to the occupied West Bank, Israeli authorities said today.

The French citizen was accused of being part of a gun-running network with Palestinian suspects that eventually sold the weapons on to arms dealers, Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency said in a statement.

It said Romain Franck, in his mid-20s, had taken advantage of reduced security checks for consular vehicles to transport the weapons out of the Palestinian enclave.

The Shin Bet said he acted on his own and was motivated by money. His superiors were not aware of his actions, the statement said.

“The consulate employee smuggled the arms on a number of occasions in recent months while using the French consulate’s consular car, which underwent a more lax security inspection at the border crossing, as is the case with this type of car,” the statement said.

“The consulate employee transferred arms on five occasions, during which he transferred some 70 pistols and two automatic rifles.” A total of nine suspects have been arrested and six were to be charged in court later Monday, including Franck.

Gaza, run by Islamist group Hamas, has been under an Israeli blockade for over a decade but weapons have been smuggled in through tunnels from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. (AFP) CPS 03191403

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.