Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Gazans who fled the fighting in Rafah, living in houses destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, May 28, 2024.

Recent developments suggest Hamas may be softening its stance on ceasefire negotiations with Israel, potentially due to the extensive damage inflicted on Gaza during Israel’s nine-month offensive, and the increased pounding by the IDF of the two southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younes, where the Gazan Hamas leadership is hiding underground, most notably the October 7 atrocities’ mastermind Yahya Sinwar. This shift in position has been noted by officials in both the Middle East and the United States, The Associated Press reported on Monday.


In a significant change, Hamas appears to have dropped its long-held demand for Israel to commit to ending the war as part of any ceasefire agreement. This move has sparked renewed optimism for progress in internationally mediated talks.

Gazans who fled the fighting in Rafah, living in houses destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip, May 30, 2024. / Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

While Hamas operates with a high degree of secrecy, internal communications viewed by the AP reveal that several senior Hamas figures in Gaza are urging the group’s exiled political leadership to accept the ceasefire proposal put forward by President Joe Biden. These messages, shared by a Middle East official familiar with the negotiations, describe the severe losses suffered by Hamas and the dire conditions in Gaza.

An anonymous source familiar with Western intelligence suggests the Hamas leadership recognizes the heavy toll on its forces, contributing to their increased willingness to consider a ceasefire deal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attributed Hamas’s engagement in negotiations to the military pressure exerted by Israel, including the ongoing two-month offensive in Rafah.

The internal Hamas communications indicate possible divisions within the organization and a readiness among some top militants to swiftly reach an agreement. However, the position of Yahya Sinwar remains unclear. The internal communications also reveal that Hamas has suffered significant casualties and acknowledge the extensive damage inflicted on Gaza by Israel’s military campaign. These messages also indicate a potential disconnect between Yahya Sinwar’s perspective and the reality on the ground. It appears that Sinwar may either be unaware of the full extent of the IDF’s impact or is not fully conveying this information to negotiators outside Gaza.

Addressing the claims of internal discord, Hamas spokesperson Jihad Taha firmly rejected any notion of division within the organization. Taha emphasized the group’s unity, stating, “Our leadership’s stance is cohesive and formulated through established organizational channels.”

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