Hamas MPs smuggle $4 million in cash into Gaza

Two Hamas legislators crossed into Gaza from Egypt Wednesday carrying $4.2 million in their luggage, and one explained that the Arab decision to lift a crippling financial blockade on the Hamas-run government is not yet in effect. Legislator Mushir al-Masri, who brought $2 million in his luggage, said the funds would be registered with the Palestinian Finance Ministry. Another Hamas lawmaker, Ahmed Bahr, the deputy parliament speaker, came in with $2.2 million. The hand-carried cash infusion showed how desperate the Palestinian Authority's money situation is. Since the militant Islamic Hamas formed a government in March after sweeping a parliamentary election, Western donors have refused to transfer aid, bankrupting the government. Reacting to an Israeli shelling in Gaza last week that killed 19 civilians, the Arab League voted to lift the boycott and resume transferring funds to the Palestinians. But the decision was seen in Gaza and the West Bank as mostly symbolic, since Arab nations have long pledged large amounts of money but rarely pay up in full.