CAIRO (Reuters) -Egypt, Israel and the U.S. agreed to a ceasefire in southern Gaza beginning at 0600 GMT coinciding with the re-opening of the Rafah border crossing, two Egyptian security sources said on Monday, to allow in aid and evacuations of foreigners.
However, Israeli prime minister appeared to deny an agreement.
“There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” a statement from his office said.
Shocked by an assault by Islamist group Hamas on towns and villages, Israel is carrying out the most intense bombardment Gaza has seen, has imposed a strict blockade, and is preparing a ground invasion.
Rafah, which is on the border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and Hamas-governed Gaza, is the only crossing into the territory not controlled by Israel.
The Egyptian sources said the ceasefire would last for several hours but they were not clear on the exact duration. They also said the three countries had agreed that Rafah would be open until 1400 GMT on Monday as a one-day initial re-opening.
A security source and NGO source in Al-Arish said that aid trucks were still waiting there after the re-opening at 0600 GMT. Reuters images showed the trucks awaiting permission to make the trip to Rafah, which could take several hours.
Egypt has said that the crossing remained open from the Egyptian side in recent days, but was rendered inoperable due to Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian side.
The agreement would allow for limited evacuations of foreign passport holders from Gaza.
Assistance that had come from several countries and organisations has been stalled in al-Arish awaiting an agreement on the delivery of aid and evacuation of foreign nationals, which U.S. Secretary of State Blinken said had been achieved after a visit to Cairo.
On Monday, he said on X that the US was “actively working to ensure the people of Gaza can get out of harm’s way and the assistance they need — food, water, medicine — can get in.”
Asked for confirmation, the Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Salama Marouf, head of the Hamas government media office, said they have received no confirmation from the Egyptian side about intentions to open the crossing.
The U.S. embassy in Israel said the situation at Rafah would be “fluid and unpredictable and it is unclear whether, or for how long, travelers will be permitted to transit the crossing.”
It said citizens who felt safe enough to do so could move towards the crossing.
Egypt’s health ministry said in a statement it was raising the level of preparedness in hospitals in several governorates to deal with the medical consequences of the situation in Gaza.
(Reporting by Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo, Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia; Additional reporting by Aidan Lewis and Nadine Awadallah; Writing by Tala Ramadan and Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Toby Chopra)