An Israeli tourist who had just finished a reserve stint in his home country’s military has been sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by a Thai court after two magazines of M16 assault rifle bullets were discovered in his hand luggage by airport security in Phuket.
The former border police officer had travelled from Israel to Thailand on holiday at the end of his reserve duty in the Israeli Defense Forces and had reportedly forgotten that the bullets were at the bottom of his bag.
Gal Shmuel Farjun’s family are said to be shell-shocked at the news that he could be incarcerated for a year and a half after initially being told that the likely outcome would see Gal being deported from Thailand and receiving a slap on the wrist.
The 29-year-old has no criminal history and had been serving his country shortly before his arrest.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry had also been hoping that the Thai court would be lenient and avoid sending Gal to prison for his misdemeanour. His lawyers plan to appeal the verdict.
Gal has been under house arrest since his arrest on October 22 and has posted bail pending the outcome of the appeal, local Israeli media reported.
Similar incidents in the past have resulted in the Foreign Ministry issuing warnings to Israeli citizens to checks their bags for ammunition before setting off on an overseas trip.
Although ammunition is meant to be returned at the end of a deployment, stray rounds appear to be a relatively common occurrence and could land Israeli tourists in hot water.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.