Hamas accepts cease-fire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar

Makeshift tents in Rafah

Makeshift tents for displaced Palestinians at a temporary camp in Rafah, southern Gaza, on May 3. (Ahmad/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Hamas has accepted a proposal from Egypt and Qatar for a cease-fire in its seven-month war with Israel, the Palestinian group said in a statement Monday.

The announcement came hours after Israel ordered tens of thousands of displaced Palestinians to evacuate parts of southern Gaza, signaling a ground assault might be imminent.

In its statement, Hamas said its top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had informed Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s intelligence minister “of the Hamas movement’s approval of their proposal regarding the cease-fire agreement.”

It is not immediately clear what the proposal entails, nor what Israel’s position is. An Israeli official told local TV that the Israeli government was “checking which formula Hamas has agreed to.”

Egyptian officials close to the talks told NPR that Hamas has agreed to a draft that had been modified over the weekend. The officials were speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive negotiations. An Israeli delegation did not attend the talks in Egypt.

The announcement — on the eve of the Gaza war’s seven-month mark — raised hopes for some that the fighting may come to a pause.

On hearing the news, Israeli relatives of some of the more than 130 hostages held in Gaza rallied in central Tel Aviv. Car horns erupted in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, according to videos on social media after the news.

Weekend talks in Cairo over a possible cease-fire broke down late Sunday over whether the pause in fighting would be temporary or permanent, and whether Israeli troops would fully withdraw from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country must retain the right to continue the war and that a permanent cease-fire and Israeli troop withdrawal would leave Hamas, which led the deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel, intact.

This is a developing story, which will be updated.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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