Skip to main content

Real or ruse, Hamas' yes to cease-fire proposal catches Netanyahu off guard

Caught by surprise by the Palestinian militant group agreeing to an Egyptian deal, the Israeli prime minister has opted for a limited incursion into eastern Rafah.
ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images

TEL AVIV —  Despite seven long months hiding under ground, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is still maneuvering. The group's announcement that it accepts a Qatar-Egypt cease-fire proposal on Monday showed its leadership's ability to cut political corners. 

On Monday night, Hamas rolled out a dramatic announcement, declaring its acceptance of a hostage-release and cease-fire deal. The announcement, which followed weeks of negotiations between the sides, came to further undermine the legitimacy of the Israeli operation launched earlier in the day on Rafah.

Surprise announcement, Egyptian buildup

The Hamas statement set off a flurry of consultations as international mediators and Israel scrambled to keep up. At the same time, Israeli tanks were rolling into the eastern suburbs of Rafah, arriving at the Gaza-Egypt border crossing before dawn Tuesday and raising an Israeli flag there. Israel has long argued that the Rafah crossing has been the site of extensive smuggling into Gaza both above and below ground that has enabled Hamas' military buildup over the years. 

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.