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Hamas sends new Gaza cease-fire response to negotiators

A Hamas official said the changes "guarantee" a deal to end the war.
Smoke rise over the Gaza Strip after an Israeli bombardment as seen from a position on the Israeli side of the border on July 3, 2024 in Southern Israel.

WASHINGTON — Hamas has provided new feedback to the Israeli cease-fire proposal intended to close the gap between the two sides, an official in the Palestinian militant group confirmed to Al-Monitor. 

"We have responded with some ideas to bridge the gap and can guarantee reaching a deal,” said Hamas official Basem Naim. 

In mid-June, Hamas responded to the US-backed text for the Gaza Strip with numerous changes, some of which the Biden administration described as “unworkable.” Axios reported on Saturday that the administration had put forward new language aimed at resolving the two sides’ differences. 

The main sticking point in the Qatar- and Egypt-mediated talks had been Hamas’ insistence that the text include guarantees of a permanent cease-fire and a full Israeli troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. 

Israel’s leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, voiced support for the deal but have vowed to continue fighting until the Palestinian militant group is destroyed.

In a statement Wednesday, Israel’s Mossad spy agency said that Israel is evaluating the latest Hamas response and “will convey its reply to the mediators.”

Negotiators have tried for months to reach an agreement to halt the war that the Gaza Health Ministry says has killed nearly 38,000 people, a majority of them women and children. Israel launched its war in retaliation for the militants’ killing of 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages during its unprecedented cross-border attack on Oct. 7. 

The proposed cease-fire outlined by President Joe Biden would begin with a six-week pause in the fighting and the release of female, wounded and elderly hostages in return for scores of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Israel would also withdraw from major population centers in Gaza and facilitate a surge in humanitarian assistance. 

During that time, Hamas and Israel would negotiate a permanent cease-fire, and the temporary truce would be extended until a deal is reached. The cease-fire’s second and third phases call for the release of male and deceased hostages, the full withdrawal of Israeli troops and the reconstruction of the devastated Palestinian territory.

This developing story has been updated since its initial publication.