Hamas commander Muhammad Abu Tir has been released from prison after serving a sentence of four years.
Abu Tir was imprisoned in Nafha Prison in southern Israel, from whence he was first transferred to a detainment cell in Jerusalem in preparation for his release, and then finally sent home.
Abu Tir returned to his home in Sur Baher, in east Jerusalem, where dozens of people welcomed him in a festive tent.
"Just as I have a father, a mother and a family, he also has a father and a mother who want him home. I don't want Shalit to remain in captivity, just as I did not like captivity," he told reporters.
Abu Tir at home (Photo: Noam Moscowitz)
"But the Israeli leadership prevented the deal, he added, "I believe that the Israeli leaders are all against the deal. They reached a deal one, twice, three times, but they did not move forwards. There are people who have been in prison for 33 years, why not released them? He could have been home by now. The deal is not in my hands, but in the hands of the leaders."
Of his feelings after being released, Abu Tir said, "It feels good, thank God. I am a political man, from the day I was born. I spent 30 years in jail for this, I paid a hefty price, and now I am happy."
Abu Tir was arrested just after the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit in 2006 during a wide-ranging operation in which 60 senior political figures, including ministers of the Hamas government and parliament members were detained.
The indictments against them carried charges of membership of an unlawful organization, association with a terror group, and others.
Nine other Hamas officials have been released from Israeli prisons in recent months, including Aziz Dwaik, head of the Hamas parliament, and former Prisoners Affairs Minister Wasfi Kabha.
Israel still holds 12 Hamas legislators in custody.
Meanwhile a Hamas spokesman in the West Bank said his organization and the Fatah had each released one of each other's members in an effort to reach a truce deal between the factions.
Raanan Ben Zur contributed to this report