Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak was released from an Israeli prison on Tuesday, after a hunger strike that lasted more than three months.
Mahmoud Sarsak had been waiting for this moment for three years.
That's how long the Palestinian soccer star was held in an Israeli prison without formal charges.
On Tuesday he was released and reunited with his family.
The development will come as a double relief as Sarsak had been on a hunger strike protest for over 90 days and had lost over half his body weight.
He received a hero's welcome in his native Gaza, as he was moved to a local hospital.
Sarsak's brother Aziz was there to meet him.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic): Aziz Sarsak, Mahmoud Sarsak's brother:
"I'm feeling so happy that one of my brothers has been released from jail. He was jailed for three years and went on a hunger strike for 96 days. I can't describe my happiness. What I wish from God is for all prisoners to be released from Israeli jails."
As Sarsak's condition deteriorated, FIFA's president Sepp Blatter asked Israel's football federation to urgently intervene with the Israeli authorities on the player's behalf.
Israel has accused Sarsak of being active in the violent group Islamic Jihad, a claim he denied while in custody.
However, senior Islamic Jihad officials were present during his reception Tuesday, and one of the group's leaders, Nafez Azzam, praised the footballer as "one of our noble members."
Sarsak was arrested three years ago, on his way to the West Bank for a football match.
Mahmoud Sarsak released from prisonWednesday, July 11 2012