GAZA CITY: Dozens of armed gunmen loyal to Hamas stormed Gaza s Rafah border crossing with Egypt Thursday, after Israel ordered it closed to prevent Prime Minister Ismail Haniya from returning with tens of millions of dollars, witnesses said. Up to 80 members of Hamas s armed wing and the ruling Islamists’ security troops forced their way into the terminal and occupied various rooms, witnesses said. European Union observers were gathered in a corner, they said. Earlier Israel had ordered Rafah – Gaza s only crossing that bypasses Israel – closed to prevent Haniya from bringing back money after a tour of Arab states and Iran. Haniya was due to return to Gaza on Thursday after cutting short his first trip abroad as premier to deal with mounting internecine tensions in the coastal strip.
During his tour, he secured promises from Iran to provide $250 million of aid to the cash-strapped Palestinian government. Whether Haniya had any cash on him and, if so, how much, could not be immediately confirmed.
Palestinian sources told Al-Jazeera International that Haniya – in a show of protest – would walk from El Arish to Gaza City on foot.
There are reports that Israel may consent to allow him through the Rafah crossing provided he does not carry the monies with him.