Cairo has formally undertaken the task of mediator between Israel and Hamas and invited both to send delegations to Cairo for negotiations on a deal for halting Hamas rocket fire into Israel and Israel air strikes over Gaza. The Egyptian government proposed to accompany the talks by the gesture of easing restrictions on the Gaza crossings in keeping with security conditions. The Egyptian step was announced Monday night, 24 hours before US Secretary John Kerry’s arrival in Cairo.

DEBKAfile: Some Arab sources reported that Israel and Hamas have both accepted the Egyptian initiative, but this is not confirmed either by Jerusalem or Gaza City.