Senior Hamas terrorists returned to Gaza on Thursday after meeting Egyptian officials in Cairo to discuss the possibility of an 18-month ceasefire with Israel. The delegation did not agree to a ceasefire deal despite saying earlier in the day that a deal was close at hand. Upon the delegation's return, one of its members was caught red-handed trying to smuggle $11 million in cash into Gaza.
The delegates said a deal was closer than ever. Egyptian diplomats and Hamas leaders are currently discussing the practical details of a proposed arrangement, they said.
Egypt is attempting to mediate a deal following the Cast Lead counterterror operation in Gaza that left approximately 1,200 Gaza Arabs dead, most of them members of Hamas.
Hamas has expressed willingness to cease its fire for 18 months, but in the absence of a deal it continues sporadically attacking southern Israel. Hamas terrorists have objected to a clause in the proposed ceasefire deal calling to end arms smuggling to Gaza and to Israel's insistence on a 500-meter buffer zone between Gaza and southern Israel.
Hamas insists that Israel open all crossings between it and Gaza immediately if a ceasefire is to be put in force.
Egyptian diplomats say the current proposal involves the immediate opening of crossings between Gaza and southern Israel, an 18-month moratorium on both terrorist attacks and IDF counterterror operations and the free passage of 80 percent of the goods currently withheld from Gaza due to Hamas's control of the area.
Iman Taha Caught with Millions
While Hamas failed to return with a ceasefire, delegation member Iman Taha almost succeeded in bringing back something else – over 11 million U.S. dollars in cash.
Egyptian border agents caught Taha as he attempted to bring a suitcase stuffed with dollars and Euros through the crossing. Taha was arrested, and the money was confiscated.
The other senior terrorists were allowed to return safely to Gaza.
Gilad Sent to Negotiate
Israeli negotiator Amos Gilad was sent to Cairo on Thursday following Hamas leaders' announcement that they had not reached a deal. Gilad met with Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before his departure.