A terrorist prisoner who went on a hunger strike in order to pressure Israel to release him was released on Monday from an Israeli prison.
According to The Associated Press (AP), Samer Issawi returned home to a joyous welcome from friends and family.
Issawi’s on and off hunger strike lasted for more than eight months, until he agreed to a deal with Israel last April.
Issawi agreed to serve eight months for violating bail conditions and then be freed to his Jerusalem home.
On Monday evening, he underwent a medical exam in an ambulance parked outside the prison in northern Israel and then drove off, according to AP.
As he arrived at his home, the report said, local residents prepared a hero’s welcome. Boys wore hooded sweat shirts with Issawi’s picture, a PLO flag and the word “resist” printed on them. Motorists put Issawi posters on their cars and a school yard across from his house was prepared for a ceremony.
“He came back in triumph,” read a banner near his home.
Issawi was first arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 26 years for terrorist activity. He was released in the Shalit deal in October 2011, but rearrested in July for violating the terms of the release agreement.
Before the deal with him was struck, Israel said it was willing to deport Issawi to any EU member country or any UN member country, but an EU spokesman had claimed that "Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject."
Arab terrorist prisoners have turned hunger striking into a pressure tactic aimed at forcing Israel to release them out of fear for their lives. Israel has several times in the past caved to the pressure and released some hunger strikers.