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Hamas paves way for possible ceasefire

Photo: Eyad Baba Agence France-Presse The compromise by Hamas, which controlled Gaza before starting the war with an attack on Israel on October 7, could cause the first pause in fighting since November and pave the way for new negotiations to end nine months of devastating war.

Samy Magdy – Associated Press and Wafaa Shurafa – Associated Press in Deir El-Balah, Gaza Strip

Posted at 3:43 p.m.

  • Middle East

Hamas has given initial approval to a US-backed proposal for a phased ceasefire deal in Gaza, abandoning its key demand that Israel commit to ending the war completely, reports said. a Hamas official and an Egyptian official said Saturday.

The compromise by Hamas, which controlled Gaza before starting the war with an attack on Israel on October 7, could provoke the first pause in fighting since November and pave the way for new negotiations to end nine months of devastating war.

All sides have warned that a deal is still not guaranteed.

In Gaza, the Health Ministry said an Israeli airstrike on a school-turned-shelter killed at least 16 people and injured at least 50 others in the Nuseirat refugee camp. Children were among the dead and injured. The Israeli military said it was studying the report.

The two officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, said Washington's incremental deal would begin with a “comprehensive” six-week ceasefire in which the elderly, sick and women held hostage would be freed in exchange for the release of hundreds of prisoners Palestinians. During those 42 days, Israeli forces would withdraw from densely populated areas of Gaza and allow displaced people to return to their homes in northern Gaza, officials said.

During this period, Hamas, Israel and mediators will negotiate terms for the second phase that could lead to the release of the remaining male civilian and military hostages, the officials said.

In exchange, Israel would release additional Palestinian prisoners and detainees. The third phase would include the return of the remaining hostages, including the bodies of the dead, and the initiation of a reconstruction project that will span several years.

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“Guarantees” that bring a ceasefire closer

Hamas representative told The Associated Press said the group's approval came after it received “verbal commitments and guarantees” from mediators that war would not resume and that negotiations would continue until a permanent ceasefire is achieved.

“Now we want these guarantees on paper,” the representative ruled.

Months of ceasefire talks have stalled over Hamas’s demand that any deal include a complete end to the war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to suspend fighting but not end it until Israel achieves its goals of destroying Hamas’s military and government capabilities and returning all hostages held by the group.

Hamas has expressed concern that Israel could resume the war after the hostages are freed. Israeli officials have expressed concern that Hamas could prolong the talks and the initial ceasefire indefinitely without releasing all the hostages.

Netanyahu’s office did not respond to requests for comment, and Washington had no immediate comment. On Friday, Israel's prime minister confirmed that the head of the Mossad spy agency had made a flying visit to Qatar, a key mediator, but his office said “gaps between the sides” remained.

“For the first time in many months, we have hope,” said many hostage families.

Israel launched the war in Gaza after the Hamas attack in October, in which members of the group stormed into southern Israel, killed some 1,200 people – mostly civilians – and kidnapped about 250 people. Israel says Hamas still holds around 120 hostages – about a third of them are now believed to be dead.

Since then, the Israeli air and ground offensive has killed more than 38,000 people in Gaza, according to the territory's Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians in its count. The offensive caused widespread damage and a humanitarian crisis that left hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine, according to international officials.

The agreement The ceasefire would allow about 600 humanitarian aid trucks to enter Gaza daily, half of them destined for the hard-hit north of the enclave, the two officials said. Since the Israeli assault on the southernmost town of Rafah, humanitarian aid entering Gaza has been sharply reduced.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116