Senior Hamas figure Sheikh Naif Rajoub was released from an Israeli prison Sunday afternoon after serving a four-year sentence.
Rajoub (51), brother of senior Fatah member Jibril Rajoub, is a former minister for waqf affairs in the first Hamas government and senior Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament. He was detained in June 2006 during a wave of arrests Israel conducted following the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
Rajoub is a resident of the village Dura, located in the Mount Hebron area.
Only eight of the more than 40 Hamas figures arrested during that time remain imprisoned in Israel. Among those still jailed is Ahmed Saadat, who took part in the assassination of Minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2001, and former Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.
About two months ago Israel released top Hamas figure Muhammad Abu Tir was released after serving a four-year prison sentence. Additional senior Hamas figures, including Palestinian Parliament Chairman Aziz Dweik, were freed shortly before Abu Tir's release, and nine more, including former Prisoner Affairs Minister Wasfi Kabha, were freed in September.
Negotiations for Shalit's release have been deadlocked for the past few months. On Thursday the soldier's parents published a new pamphlet containing a picture of their son in the form of a police missing persons notice. Instead of the word "missing," however, is the word "captive."