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Israel to press attack on Rafah as it negotiates possible cease-fire deal

Hamas said Monday it agreed to a Qatari-Egyptian cease-fire proposal and Israel said it would send meditators to negotiate, reviving hopes of an extended pause to the fighting in Gaza even as Israel vowed to press on with its long-awaited military campaign in Rafah.

Early Monday, the Israeli military ordered tens of thousands of civilians in southern Gaza to "evacuate immediately" and said it would act with "extreme force" there, sending a surge of fear through more than a million Palestinians sheltering in the area. Hours later, as displaced families rushed to pack their belongings once more, panic gave way to celebrations, after Hamas announced it had informed Arab mediators that it would approve the cease-fire proposal.

But the path to any final agreement is likely to be a winding one, and there will be no immediate relief for Rafah. Residents reported artillery shelling and bombings as night fell; the Israeli military said it was carrying out strikes against "Hamas terror targets" in the east of the city.


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