TEL AVIV, Israel - Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their cease-fire for two more days past Monday, raising the prospect of further exchanges of militant-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel and a longer halt to their deadliest and most destructive war.
Eleven Israeli women and children, freed by Hamas, entered Israel Monday night in the fourth swap under the original four-day truce, which began Friday and was due to run out. Thirty-three Palestinian prisoners released by Israel arrived early Tuesday in the West Bank town of Ramallah. The prisoners were greeted by loud cheers as their bus made its way through the streets.
The deal for two additional days of cease-fire, announced by Qatar, raised hopes for further extensions, which also allow more aid into Gaza. Conditions there have remained dire for 2.3 million Palestinians, battered by weeks of Israeli bombardment and a ground offensive that have driven three-quarters of the population from their homes.