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Israel frees former hamas official after two years

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Picture: (AFP/David Buimovitch)- Blindfolded and handcuffed Fatah members allowed into Israel from the Gaza Strip are guarded by an Israeli soldier. Israel has begun returning Fatah members who had fled deadly clashes in the Gaza Strip to the territory following a request by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

A Palestinian security official says a senior Hamas official in the West Bank, former finance minister Omar Abdelrazek, was freed this morning after being held by Israel for two years.

The former minister was released overnight from the Megiddo prison in northern Israel.

Abdelrazek was arrested on June 29, 2006 with another seven Palestinian ministers and 20 MPs, all members of the Hamas movement.

Israel arrested 64 Hamas members in total after fighters captured an Israeli soldier in a June 25 cross-border raid from the Gaza Strip.