Israel released senior Hamas official and Palestinian Legislative Council member Muhammad Abu Tir on Thursday, after detaining him for 43 months, an Israel Prison Service spokeswoman said.

Mr. Abu Tir was taken from a prison in southern Israel to the Jerusalem police headquarters, and then allowed to go to his home in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Bacher.

He was greeted by scores of people who set up a special festive tent to welcome him home.

Mr. Abu Tir was among more than 40 Hamas leaders whom Israel arrested more than three years ago, after Gaza Strip—based militants launched a cross—border raid and snatched an Israeli soldier.

Most of the Hamas leaders, many of them lawmakers, were released after spending several years in prison, but negotiations to free the Israeli soldier have so far yielded no results.

Ten more Hamas detainees remain in prison as they complete their sentences.

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