Hostages being released
Hostages being releasedFlash 90

Egyptian intelligence quietly changed the terms of a ceasefire proposal that Israel had already signed off on earlier this month, ultimately scuttling a deal that could have released hostages and Palestinian Arab prisoners, and set a pathway to temporarily end the fighting in Gaza, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing three people familiar with the discussions.

The ceasefire agreement that Hamas said on May 6 it had agreed to was not what the Qataris or the Americans believed had been submitted to Hamas for a potential final review, the sources told the network.

The changes made by Egyptian intelligence, the details of which have not been previously reported, led to a wave of anger and recrimination among officials from the US, Qatar and Israel, and left ceasefire talks at an impasse.

“We were all duped,” one of those sources told CNN.

CIA Director Bill Burns, who has spearheaded the American efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement, was in the region when word reached him that the Egyptians had changed the terms of the deal. Burns was angry and embarrassed, the source said, believing it made him look like he wasn’t in the loop or hadn’t informed the Israelis of the changes.

The soft-spoken and mild-mannered Burns “almost blew a gasket,” the source told CNN.

A CIA spokesperson declined to comment.

Three sources familiar with the matter told CNN that a senior Egyptian intelligence official named Ahmed Abdel Khalek was responsible for making the changes. Abdel Khalek is a senior deputy to the Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who has been Burns’ counterpart in leading Egypt’s mediation in the ceasefire talks.

One source familiar with the negotiations said Abdel Khalek told the Israelis one thing and Hamas another. More of Hamas’ demands were inserted into the original framework that Israel had tacitly agreed to in order to secure Hamas’ approval, the source said. But the other mediators were not informed, nor were the Israelis.

The Egyptian government did not respond to a request for comment.

CNN had previously reported that Hamas demanded that Israel agree to a 12-week ceasefire instead of a six-week ceasefire during the hostage negotiations.

Hamas announced earlier this month that, in light of what it termed as “Israel's refusal” of the proposal of the mediators for a ceasefire and hostage release deal, and amid the Israeli operation in Rafah, it intends to hold consultations with the Palestinian Arab factions and “re-examine” its negotiation strategy.