Gaza Cease-Fire Talks: A Timeline of Recent Developments

Within the course of days, hopes for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip have been raised, dashed and raised again, with no clear explanation.

The confusion was evident on Monday, when Hamas claimed to have accepted the terms of a truce deal even as Israel — a week after making concessions in the hope of an agreement — was ordering civilians in the southern Gazan city of Rafah to evacuate and escalating its airstrikes there. Then on Tuesday, the Israeli military said it had sent tanks into Rafah and taken over the Gaza side of the border crossing with Egypt, halting the flow of aid into the enclave.

Here is a look at the recent dizzying turns of events:

Israeli officials, offering a hint of hope for a deal, said that their negotiators had reduced the number of hostages they wanted Hamas to release during the first phase of a truce.

A Hamas leader said that the group would soon send a delegation to Cairo to “complete ongoing discussions” on a cease-fire deal.

With talks underway, a senior Hamas official said in a text message that the group’s representatives had arrived in Cairo for the talks, “with great positivity” toward the latest proposal.

The talks — which are held indirectly, through mediators — hit an impasse, and Hamas said its delegation had left Cairo. An Israeli official described the negotiations as in “crisis.”

Late in the day, Hamas launched rockets at a border crossing between Gaza and Israel, killing four Israeli soldiers. Israel stepped up its attacks in Gaza.

Hamas said it accepted the terms of a cease-fire — not as laid out in Israel’s proposal, but drawn from one put forth by Egypt and Qatar. The announcement came hours after Israel had ordered people to evacuate from some areas in Rafah, a sign that its forces might be close to launching a long-anticipated invasion of the crowded city. Then, the Israeli military said it was carrying out “targeted strikes” in eastern Rafah.

Late in the day, in keeping with a week of contradictory signals, the Israeli prime minister’s office said that Hamas’s latest cease-fire proposal was unsatisfactory. But it said would send a working-level delegation back to the talks in Cairo anyway.

Israeli tanks crossed into Rafah and established control over the Gaza side of the border crossing with Egypt in what it called a limited operation aimed at destroying Hamas targets used to attack Israeli soldiers. Analysts said it was unclear whether the Israeli action in Rafah would ratchet up the pressure on Hamas negotiators to make a deal, or would sabotage the talks.

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