By Athena Papakosta

A Hamas delegation has arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for talks aimed at reaching an agreement that will lead to a six-week ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. However, until late Sunday night, the Israeli delegation remained absent, while the representatives from Qatar and the United States had already arrived in Cairo.

According to a US official, who asked not to be named, Israel has conditionally accepted a proposal under which fighting would cease for six weeks and hostages held by Hamas would be released in exchange for the release of Palestinians who are held by Israel.

Israeli media, however, report that Hamas refuses to confirm which of the hostages are still alive, and therefore Israel will not participate in the talks unless it receives the relevant list.

At the same time, an unnamed Hamas source told the American network CNN that the Islamist Palestinian organization will not accept a deal to release hostages without an Israeli commitment to end the war in Gaza. At the same time, it is – also – known that Hamas is demanding the return of Palestinians to the northern sector of the Gaza Strip and an increase in humanitarian aid to the entire Palestinian enclave.

An official of the Islamic Palestinian organization emphasized, on Sunday, that “if Israel accepts the demands of Hamas, the way to reach an agreement can be opened within the next 24-48 hours”.

It has preceded the round of talks in Doha, Qatar, in which the Israeli delegation participated, while the talks between the representatives of Israel, the United States, Qatar and Egypt found “common ground” in Paris with the negotiators reaching a “basic outline » of an agreement, which would allow a ceasefire.

According to sources from Egypt, the Israeli delegation is expected in Cairo.

However, the Israeli leadership has not confirmed either whether it has accepted the truce agreement – as reported by Washington – or whether the Israeli delegation will go to the Egyptian capital while, at the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refuses to withdraw troops from the Gaza Strip until, he repeats, Hamas is crushed and all Israeli hostages are released.

The clock has been ticking down dangerously long for the Gaza Strip. Since the start of the war, the dead have exceeded 30,000 while the humanitarian crisis is spreading with children now dying of starvation.

The international community is pushing for a ceasefire, and this pressure has increased further after the horror and outcry over at least 112 dead Palestinians killed by Israeli fire while crowding for food around trucks.

Israel denies the claim, pointing out that the incident “will be investigated by an independent body of experts.” As the spokesman of the Israeli armed forces, Daniel Hagari, pointed out, the preliminary investigation showed that “there was no blow in the direction of the convoy” and that the Israeli armed forces “responded” when they felt an “immediate threat” from “looters who approached them when they began to recede.”

The Cairo talks remain, for now, up in the air and still at risk of deadlock. Analysts note that the two warring sides appear to be sticking to their positions, while, officially, neither has opened its cards. The only certainty is that time is running out and that in a week from today the Ramadan period begins – a date unofficially set as a deadline for the necessary truce.