Hamas agrees to ceasefire proposal, Israel yet to respond

Hamas has told Egyptian and Qatari mediators on Monday evening that they accept their proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza. At the time of writing, it’s not yet clear what the agreement entails exactly. Israel is still examining the ceasefire proposal.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has informed Qatar's prime minister and the head of Egypt’s minister of intelligence of the Hamas movement's approval of their proposal regarding the ceasefire agreement. At the moment of writing, it’s not clear which deal they accepted exactly but it would include three phases, with each lasting 42 days. It would include a ceasefire, reconstruction of Gaza, return of the displaced and a prisoner swap,

The news came just hours after Israel ordered Palestinians living in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, to “evacuate immediately”. This raised fears that Israel would soon attack the city. More than 1 million Palestinians have fled to Rafah, where Hamas is believed to have regrouped after Israel’s destruction of much of the north of Gaza. As news spread of Hamas’ announcement, many Palestinians in Rafah already started celebrating in the streets.

Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari told a media briefing that Israel is examining the ceasefire proposal. “We examine every response seriously and are exhausting every possibility regarding negotiations and returning hostages,” he said. “In parallel, we are still operating in the Gaza Strip and will continue to do so."

An unnamed Israeli official had earlier told news agency Reuters that Hamas approved a “softened” Egyptian proposal that is not acceptable to Israel. This official added that the proposal included “far-reaching” conclusions that Israel would not support. Several Israeli media outlets had also reported that the government would not accept the deal.

Hamas and Israel have agreed to a truce once so far. In November, there was a week of no fighting and hostages and Palestinian prisoners were exchanged.

Palestinians celebrate in a street in Rafah © BELGA PHOTO AFP

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