Hamas is awaiting a response from Israel regarding its ceasefire proposal, according to two officials from the Palestinian group who spoke on Sunday. This comes five days after Hamas accepted a significant part of a US plan intended to bring an end to the nine-month conflict in Gaza. "We have submitted our response through the mediators and are now waiting for the occupation's reply," one of the Hamas officials told Reuters, requesting anonymity.

The three-phase plan for the Palestinian territory, proposed by US President Joe Biden at the end of May, is being facilitated by Qatar and Egypt. It seeks to conclude the hostilities and secure the release of approximately 120 Israeli hostages held by Hamas. Another Palestinian official familiar with the ceasefire discussions revealed that Israel is in dialogue with the Qataris. "They have discussed Hamas' response and promised to relay Israel's response within days," the official, who also requested anonymity, informed Reuters on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has confirmed that negotiations will proceed this week, though no specific timeline has been provided. Later on Sunday, an Israeli air strike resulted in the death of Ehab Al Ghussein, Hamas' appointed deputy minister of labor, along with three others at a church-run school in western Gaza City. The school was sheltering Christian and Muslim families, according to Hamas media and the Civil Emergency Service. The Israeli military is currently investigating this incident. Ghussein's wife and children had previously been killed in an Israeli strike in May.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, has abandoned its initial demand for Israel to commit to a permanent ceasefire before any agreement is signed. Instead, it now intends to pursue negotiations to achieve this goal during the six-week initial phase, as disclosed by a Hamas source to Reuters on Saturday. This source requested anonymity due to the confidential nature of the talks. A Palestinian official involved in the peace efforts stated that the proposal could result in a framework agreement if accepted by Israel, thereby ending the war.

US Central Intelligence Agency director William Burns is scheduled to travel to Qatar this week for further negotiations. The conflict began nine months ago on October 7 when Hamas-led fighters launched an attack from Gaza into southern Israel, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 people and the capture of around 250 hostages, according to official Israeli figures. Over 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's military campaign, according to Gaza health officials, and the coastal region has been largely devastated.

The UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, has described the situation as increasingly tragic, highlighting ongoing forced displacement, extensive destruction, and constant fear among families. Essential supplies are scarce, the heat is oppressive, and diseases are spreading. Protests erupted across Israel on Sunday as demonstrators pressured the government to secure an agreement to release the remaining hostages held in Gaza. The protests disrupted rush hour traffic, targeted politicians' homes, and involved setting tires on fire on the main Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway, which was subsequently cleared by police.

Simultaneously, hostilities persisted across Gaza, with northern Israel experiencing rocket attacks from Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. Air raid sirens prompted residents of 24 Israeli towns to seek shelter, resulting in one person being seriously injured, according to police. Hezbollah claimed to have launched rockets at an army base. In Gaza, Palestinian health officials reported at least 15 deaths from separate Israeli military strikes on Sunday. An Israeli air strike on a house in Zawayda, central Gaza, killed six people and injured several others, while another strike in western Gaza claimed six lives.

Israeli tanks intensified their operations in central and northern areas of Rafah on the southern border with Egypt. Health officials in Rafah reported the recovery of three bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli fire in the eastern part of the city. The Israeli military announced on Sunday that its forces had eliminated 30 Palestinian gunmen in Rafah through close combat and air strikes over the past day. In Shejaia, an eastern suburb of Gaza City, the military reported the killing of several Palestinian gunmen and the discovery of weapons and explosives.

The armed factions of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a militant group allied with Hamas, declared that their fighters had engaged Israeli forces in multiple locations across the Gaza Strip using anti-tank rockets and mortar bombs.