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The Hamas militant group says it has accepted an Egyptian-Qatari cease-fire proposal to halt the seven-month war with Israel. It issued a statement Monday saying its supreme leader, Ismail Haniyeh, had delivered the news in a phone call with Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s intelligence minister.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

A U.S. official said that Washington was still waiting to learn more about the Hamas position and whether it reflected an agreement to what had already been signed off on by Israel and international negotiators or to something else.

Details of the proposal haven’t been released. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

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Hamas announced Monday it has accepted an Egyptian-Qatari cease-fire proposal, but there was no immediate word from Israel, leaving it uncertain whether a deal had been sealed to bring a halt to the seven-month-long war in Gaza.

Egyptian and Hamas officials have previously said a potential ceasefire would take place in several stages in which Hamas would release Israeli captives it is holding in exchange for Israeli troop pullbacks from Gaza.

It had not been clear whether the deal would meet Hamas’s key demands of a permanent ceasefire, a complete Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the return of displaced families to their homes.

Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah, said people started celebrating near the Kuwaiti Hospital upon hearing the Hamas announcement.

Children and the elderly are among people cheering and chanting for a return to Gaza City, he said.

“Everyone … is happy because they believe a Rafah invasion will bring an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe,” Abu Azzoum said. “Now they are so optimistic.”

The announcement brought “a sense of relief and tranquility” among Palestinians who are “exhausted and traumatised”, he said.

A displaced Palestinian in Rafah told Al Jazeera he hopes he would be able to go back home.

“We hope we return to our homes. … I am from Gaza [City] itself,” he said.

—Source: Al-Jazeera/AP

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