Palestinians Smuggling Arms Through Embassies?
The ongoing probe into last week’s explosion at the Palestinian Mission in Prague has led one former official to conclude that Palestinians may be smuggling weapons under diplomatic cover.
Czech police have ruled out foul play or terrorism in the New Year’s Day explosion, which killed Palestinian ambassador Jamal al-Jamal. It is believed a booby-trapped safe that had remained untouched for more than 20 years went off unexpectedly as al-Jamal was moving it.
During their investigation, police uncovered a small weapons cache in the Mission that included sub-machine guns and pistols, reports AFP. The 12 weapons were not registered with Czech authorities, reports the New York Times, and are currently undergoing DNA and ballistics tests.
The discovery prompted former police Chief of Staff Jiri Sedivy to accuse Palestine of using its embassies to illegally smuggle weapons under diplomatic cover.
“It scares me,” Sedivy said in an interview with a local Czech newspaper. “It is not just about a flagrant violation of diplomatic norms and practices, but also security policies.” The former Police Chief went on to say it is “very likely” other Palestinian embassies throughout Europe are storing weapons and are part of a larger smuggling chain.
Sedivy ruled out terrorism as a motive for the Palestinians, but “the likely assembly and deployment of special military equipment that could be used in certain situations in action.”
Prague police chief Martin Cervicek has denied the accusations, emphasizing that his investigation is still ongoing. It also unclear what was inside the safe.
The Czech foreign ministry on Monday denounced the weapons discovery as a “flagrant violation of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.”
“The Czech Republic expects the Palestinian side to explain clearly and without equivocation the situation concerning these arms found in the Palestinian mission,” it said in a statement.
A spokesman for the Palestinian Mission, Nabil el-Fahel, told Reuters that embassy staff members were unaware of any explosive device connected to the safe. “None of us knew there was any device like that,” he said.
Mr. Fahel has denied knowing of any weapons being stored in the Mission.