Egypt: Hamas tried to smuggle millions into Gaza
Official says Hamas delegation to Cairo meant to discuss ceasefire terms stopped at Rafah crossing upon its return to Gaza with nine million US dollars and two million euro in cash hidden in their luggage. Meanwhile, Israel's Amos Gilad is heading to Egypt to be briefed on the developments.
An Egyptian security official says Egypt has stopped a Hamas delegation returning to the Gaza Strip from carrying millions in dollars and euros with them in their suitcases.
The official said the group initially refused to be searched by Egyptian authorities at the Rafah border crossing.
When authorities finally searched the delegation's suitcases, they found nine million in dollars and two million in Euros.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. One member of the delegation stayed in Egypt with the money while the remaining members of the group went into Gaza.
The delegation had been in Cairo for talks with Egypt about a long-term truce with Israel to end fighting in Gaza.
Meanwhile Egypt is pushing forward with its efforts to mediate a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, left for Cairo on Thursday to be briefed on the new developments in Egypt's talks with Hamas.
Prior to this Gilad briefed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni.
Senior Hamas officials said Thursday morning that the Islamist group would soon be ready to sign an agreement. However another delegation member, Muhammed Nasser, later said that Hamas was leaving
Egypt without having agreed on a deal. The main point of contention, he said, remains the opening of the border crossings with Gaza. Nasser also said he did not know when the delegation was set to return to Cairo, despite earlier reports that Hamas was due to give its response on Saturday.
Hamas sources told Ynet following the report that while a deal had not yet been reached, the efforts were not being written off as a failure. They said that the recent round of talks focused on the small details, including the crossings.
Roni Sofer contributed to this report