David Cameron has expressed his "joy and relief" at the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit after five years held in captivity by Hamas.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the "courage and fortitude" shown by Sergeant Shalit and his family during his ordeal, and congratulated Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu on his success in securing his freedom.
Sgt Shalit was handed over to mediators in Egypt in a prisoner exchange which saw more than 1,000 Palestinians released from Israeli jails.
"I know that people across Britain will share in the joy and relief felt by Gilad Shalit and his family today," Mr Cameron said in a statement on Tuesday.
"I can only imagine the heartache of the last five years, and I am full of admiration for the courage and fortitude which Sgt Shalit and his family have shown through his long, cruel and unjustified captivity.
"I congratulate Prime Minister Netanyahu and everyone involved for bringing him home safely, and hope this prisoner exchange will bring peace a step closer.
"Britain will continue to stand by Israel in defeating terrorism. We remain strongly committed to the cause of peace in the Middle East - with Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side in security.
"We will continue to work for direct negotiations to achieve that end."