GAZA CITY -- Hopes rose Tuesday for a halt to hostilities after seven days of devastating fighting between Israel and Hamas, with officials from the militant group predicting a cease-fire would take effect at midnight.
But as the evening wore on, Israeli and Egyptian officials began downplaying expectations, warning that no deal had been signed.
According to one senior Hamas official, the parties reached a “major breakthrough” Tuesday when Israel agreed to halt attacks against the Gaza Strip, stop targeted killings of Hamas leaders and ease border restrictions.
Israel is seeking an end to the rocket fire into its territory by Gaza militants and assurances – backed up by Egypt and the international community – that Hamas won’t be allowed to rebuild the weapons caches that Israel has destroyed.
Israeli officials have not commented on the talks, which are being conducted in Cairo through Turkish and Egyptian intermediaries since Israel and Hamas don’t formally recognize one another.