By Adel Zaanoun with Michael Blum in Jerusalem
A truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be extended by two days, the Palestinian group and mediator Qatar said on Monday, opening the way for further releases of hostages and prisoners.
With just hours to go before the so-called "humanitarian pause" was to end early on Tuesday, Hamas said that an agreement had been reached to prolong it by 48 hours under the existing terms.
There was no immediate confirmation from the Israeli side of the extension, which was nevertheless hailed by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as "a glimpse of hope and humanity in the middle of the darkness of war".
Qatar - with the support of the United States and Egypt - has been engaged in intense negotiations to establish and prolong the truce in Gaza.
Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al Ansari announced that "an agreement has been reached to extend the humanitarian truce for an additional two days in the Gaza Strip."