Hamas says it agrees to Gaza ceasefire proposal


Hamas on Monday agreed to a ceasefire proposal in the seven-month-old war with Israel in Gaza.

Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of Hamas, informed Qatari and Egyptian mediators that the group accepted their ceasefire proposal, according to a brief statement from Hamas, which gave no details of the accord.

The agreement, should it take effect, would be the first truce since a week-long pause in the fighting in November, and follows months of failed attempts at halting the fighting to free hostages and allow more aid into Gaza.

There had been concerns that the ceasefire talks being held in Cairo had stalled after Hamas official Izzat al-Rashiq warned that any Israeli operation in Rafah would put the truce talks in jeopardy.

The city, on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, has been the last sanctuary for around half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents, pushed south by Israel's seven-month-old assault.

An unnamed Israeli official quoted by Reuters said Hamas had agreed to a "softened" version of an Egyptian proposal that included "far-reaching" conclusions that Israel could not accept.

"This would appear to be a ruse intended to make Israel look like the side refusing a deal," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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