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Hamas claims to accept hostage deal, Israeli officials say it's a ploy by terror group

Hamas says it agreed to deal including permanent ceasefire, full withdrawal of IDF

Hamas' top leader Ismail Haniyeh (Photo: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via REUTERS)

Following the bombshell announcement that Hamas agreed to a hostage deal on Monday evening, Israeli officials strongly denied that Hamas had agreed to a proposal that had been approved by Israel.

“We gave the Egyptian and Qatari mediators our agreement to their proposal for a ceasefire,” a senior Hamas source told the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera, which was barred from operating in Israel on Sunday.

In an additional statement, the terror group announced: “The head of the politburo, Ismail Haniyeh, called the Prime Minister of Qatar and the head of Egyptian intelligence, and informed them that the organization agrees to their proposal regarding a ceasefire.”

Government officials told several Israeli media outlets that Hamas had not agreed to terms that were approved by Israel, indicating that the mediators might have sent the terror group a proposal without prior Israeli consent.

On Monday evening, the Saudi channel Al-Arabiya quoted a Hamas source saying that the proposal included a permanent ceasefire and a complete lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which would necessitate a full withdrawal of Israeli troops.

Israel has maintained that it wouldn’t agree to stop the war in exchange for any hostage deal. Al-Arabiya also reported that the proposal Hamas agreed to had been amended by the terror group, with the U.S. guaranteeing Israel would accept the changes.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya later told Al Jazeera the terms of the deal that Hamas agreed to include three stages, each stipulating 42 days of ceasefire.

During the second stage of the deal, Israel is to announce a permanent ceasefire, meaning an end to the war. He claimed that the mediators assured Hamas that the U.S. would guarantee Israel’s acceptance of the deal.

According to Politico’s White House correspondent, however, the U.S. had not approved the proposal before it was sent to Hamas. American officials reacted cautiously to Hamas' claims, only saying the U.S. was studying the issue together with its allies.

Israeli officials denied Hamas’ announcement would be taken seriously, adding that Israel was studying the group’s official response which was transmitted on Monday before deciding how to react.

In response to Hamas’ surprise announcement, Israeli officials sent out strongly-worded statements telling media outlets that the terror group was trying to deceive the public by agreeing to a proposal that Israel had explicitly rejected.

Israel's Channel 13 reported that inside the Israeli government, the prevailing assessment was that the announcement was an attempt to postpone the Israeli operation in Rafah, the terror group’s last major stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Security officials stressed that the preparations for the military operation in Rafah were continuing as planned and that there were no changes, according to Army Radio.

This was affirmed by the IDF’s Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari in a briefing on Monday evening.

“During the day, the Air Force attacked over 50 terror targets in the Rafah area, we are preparing for a ground incursion in the area,” Hagari stated.

A short time earlier, the office of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant issued a statement saying he met with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi and the head of the IDF Operations Directorate, Maj.-Gen. Oded Basiuk.

They discussed “the IDF’s expected operational plans in the Gaza Strip, with an emphasis on the Rafah area,” according to the statement.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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