Updated May 6, 2024 - World

Hamas accepts hostage deal proposal but Israel says they are still far apart

Palestinians celebrate after Hamas accepted a proposed cease-fire in Rafah, Gaza on May 06, 2024. (Photo by Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Palestinians celebrate after Hamas accepted a proposed ceasefire in Rafah, Gaza on May 06, 2024. Photo: Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu via Getty Images

Israel said Monday that an Egyptian-Qatari brokered hostage and ceasefire deal accepted by Hamas is "far from [their] requirements" but they plan to send a delegation to Cairo tomorrow to continue indirect talks.

Why it matters: If Israel and Hamas can agree to conditions, it could lead to the release of up to 33 hostages being held in Gaza and to a pause in fighting in the enclave for more than one month.

  • A ceasefire could also delay a possible Israeli ground invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million Palestinians are taking shelter.

The latest: The Israeli prime minister's office said the war cabinet decided that "although the Hamas proposal is far from Israel's necessary requirements," the country will send a delegation of working-level mediators "to exhaust the possibility of reaching an agreement under conditions acceptable to Israel."

  • A senior Israeli official who read Hamas' response said there are big and significant gaps between the Hamas response and the previous proposals that were discussed. "Despite this, an Israeli delegation will go to Cairo with the desire and willingness to see if it is possible to close the gaps. In any case, we won't allow Hamas to play for time," the official said.
  • Another Israeli official said Hamas response is "practically a new proposal" that is different from previous ones in many aspects.

The prime minister's office also said at the end of a consultation between Netanyahu, the ministers of the war cabinet and the Israeli negotiations team, the war cabinet unanimously decided Israel will move forward with its military operation in Rafah "to exert military pressure on Hamas in order to promote the release of our hostages and the other goals of the war."

  • Israel Defense Forces said Israel started attacking Hamas targets in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah on Monday evening local time.

Driving the news: The head of Hamas' political bureau Ismail Haniyeh spoke on the phone with the prime minister of Qatar and the director of the Egyptian intelligence service and told them the group agrees to a ceasefire, Hamas said in a statement.

  • The White House and the U.S. State Department confirmed that Hamas sent its response to the proposal and the Biden administration is studying it and discussing with its partners. President Biden was briefed on the details.
  • CIA director Bill Burns is in Doha as part of the U.S. effort to secure the hostage deal.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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