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“Rafah can wait, they cannot,” a protest message in Tel Aviv said yesterday, referring to the hostages in Gaza.Credit…Ohad Zwigenberg/Associated Press

Israel reduced its demands, raising hopes for a cease-fire

Israeli negotiators have reduced the number of hostages they want Hamas to release in the initial phase of a truce to 33 from 40, Israeli officials said yesterday, offering a hint of hope for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

Cease-fire talks have been at a standstill for weeks, but a delegation from Israel was planning to fly to Cairo today to resume negotiations — but only if Hamas agreed to attend, according to two of the officials. Hamas did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would send representatives to Cairo.

Patrick Kingsley, The Times’s Jerusalem bureau chief, told me that “there are lots of stumbling blocks” before a possible deal.

“Hamas wants a truce that gives it a chance of surviving the war as a military force, whereas Israel wants a deal that would allow its army the chance to eventually resume fighting and rout Hamas,” Patrick said. “That’s why Israel wants a short cease-fire, while Hamas wants a longer one that could be dragged out into permanence.”

More Gaza updates:

  • The White House: President Biden sees a narrow opportunity for a cease-fire before Israel invades Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than a million Gazans have sheltered.

  • Protests: Arab leaders are cracking down on pro-Palestinian protests in their countries out of fear that the outrage of demonstrators could extend to their governments.


A damaged building in the Ukrainian village of Ocheretyne, not far from Avdiivka.Credit…Anatolii Stepanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

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