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Hamas says it's accepted proposed ceasefire agreement from Qatar, Egypt

Monday May 6, 2024

Statement says Hamas chief has informed Qatar's prime minister, Egypt's intelligence of decision

Palestinians gather as rescuers search for casualties under the rubble of a house destroyed in an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Monday. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)

Hamas announced on Monday it has accepted an Egyptian-Qatari proposal for a ceasefire to halt the seven-month-long war with Israel in Gaza, hours after Israel ordered Palestinians to begin evacuating from the southern city of Rafah.

There was no immediate comment from Israel on the deal, and details of the proposal have not yet been released.

In recent days, Egyptian and Hamas officials have said the ceasefire would take place in a series of stages during which Hamas would release hostages it is holding in exchange for Israeli troop pullbacks from Gaza.

It is not clear whether the deal will meet Hamas's key demand of bringing about an end to the war and complete Israeli withdrawal.

Hamas said in a statement its top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had delivered the news in a phone call with Qatar's prime minister and Egypt's intelligence minister. After the release of the statement, Palestinians erupted in cheers in the sprawling tent camps around Rafah, hoping the deal meant an Israeli attack had been averted.

Israel's closest allies, including the United States, have repeatedly said that Israel shouldn't attack Rafah. The looming operation has raised global alarm over the fate of about 1.4 million Palestinians sheltering there.

Aid agencies have warned that an offensive will worsen Gaza's humanitarian catastrophe and bring a surge of more civilian deaths in an Israeli campaign that has devastated the territory and, according to the local Health Ministry, killed more than 34,000 people.

Israel launched its attack on Gaza after Hamas led an attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 that saw 1,200 people killed and more than 250 kidnapped, according to the government's tally.

More to come.


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