Timeline of Recent Twists and Turns in Gaza Cease-fire Talks

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

The confusion was perhaps never more evident than 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.

Here is a look at the recent dizzying turn of events.

Monday, April 29

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.

Thursday, May 2

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

Saturday, May 4

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.

Sunday, May 5

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.

Monday, May 6

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 timing appeared noteworthy. The announcement was made after Israel had ordered people to evacuate from some areas in Rafah, a sign that Israeli forces might be close to launching a long-anticipated invasion of the refugee-packed city. Late in the day, the Israeli military said it was carrying out “targeted strikes” on in eastern Rafah.

The strikes may prove to be an attempt to turn up the pressure on Hamas negotiators. 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.

Then it said would send a working-level delegation back to the talks in Cairo anyway.

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