Nine American security guards at the US Consulate in Jerusalem were recently sent back to the US over suspicions that they smuggled drugs from the West Bank.
The guards were allegedly assisted by Palestinian employees at the consulate, and were accused of using American diplomatic vehicles to transfer cocaine, steroids and ketamine from Ramallah to Jerusalem, according to Israeli news website Ynet.
Six of the guards were expelled immediately after officials at the consulate discovered their misconduct, and three others were sent back to the US shortly after. The report did not make clear when the events took place.
It was also not immediately clear whether the guards were accused of smuggling the drugs for personal use, or if they were also selling them.
Consulate officials uncovered the illegal activities after the father of a female Palestinian consulate employee complained that his daughter was fraternizing with an American guard, according to Ynet.
The father alleged that the guard and his friends regularly smuggled drugs from the West Bank and East Jerusalem into the capital, and that Palestinian consulate employees were assisting them with the purchases.
Unnamed sources at the consulate told Ynet that no internal investigation was launched against the Palestinian employees accused of assisting the guards. The sources maintained that the consulate updated the Israel Police on the matter.
The suspected Palestinian guards are part of a newly formed unit that is currently being trained to serve as armed guards, particularly for consular trips to the West Bank’s Area A, which is off-limits to Israelis, according to Ynet.
The establishment of the new unit violates a 2011 agreement between Israel and the consulate, Ynet stated, whereby only Israel Defense Forces combat veterans would be authorized to carry arms as consulate guards.
Additionally, Israeli guards at the consulate alleged that the Palestinians were being trained with firearms in Jericho at a Palestinian Preventative Security base, as well as in the United States.
The US and many European nations, which do not officially have embassies in the West Bank, keep an embassy in Tel Aviv, which handles Israeli affairs, and a consular office in Jerusalem, straddling the eastern and western sides of the city, which handles Palestinian affairs.
Mitch Ginsburg contributed to the report.