Hamas is reviewing Israeli proposal for cease-fire in Gaza, as planned Rafah offensive looms

 People demonstrate in support of Palestinians in Gaza, during a protest near the annual White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) Dinner in Washington, U.S., April 27. Reuters-Yonhap

Hamas said Saturday it was reviewing a new Israeli proposal for a cease-fire in Gaza, as Egypt intensified efforts to broker a deal to end the months-long war and stave off a planned Israeli ground offensive into the southern city of Rafah.Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya gave no details of Israel’s offer, but said it was in response to a Hamas proposal two weeks ago. Negotiations earlier this month centered on a six-week cease-fire proposal and the release of 40 civilian and sick hostages in exchange for freeing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.A separate Hamas statement said leaders from the three main militant groups active in Gaza discussed attempts to end the war. It didn’t mention the Israeli proposal.The statements came hours after an Egyptian delegation ended a visit to Israel where it discussed a “new vision” for a prolonged cease-fire in Gaza, according to an Egyptian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.It wasn’t immediately clear whether Israel’s proposal was directly related to the visit.

The discussions between Egyptian and Israeli officials focused on the first stage of a plan that would include a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, and the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the Egyptian official said.Mediators are working on a compromise that will answer most of both parties’ main demands, which could pave the way to continued negotiations with the goal of a deal to end the war, the official said.Hamas has said it won’t back down from demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops. Israel has rejected both and said it will continue military operations until Hamas is defeated and that it will retain a security presence in Gaza.There is growing international pressure for Hamas and Israel to reach a cease-fire deal and avert an Israeli attack on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have sought refuge.Israel has insisted for months it plans a ground offensive into Rafah, on the border with Egypt, where it says many remaining Hamas militants remain, despite calls for restraint including from Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States.Egypt has cautioned an offensive into Rafah could have “catastrophic consequences” on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where famine is feared, and on regional peace and security.The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles 토토사이트 in southern Israel close to Rafah and hit locations in the city in near-daily airstrikes.

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