Freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit saluted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then for the first time in five years, hugged his father.
A convoy carried Shalit back through the cheering crowds to his hometown in Northern Israel. Shalit's father thanked supporters and told them Galid would need time to recover from the physical and psychological wounds during his time in captivity.
"He suffers from minor injuries and he'll be treated at the army facilities, and hopefully, he will recover very soon," said Shalit.
Israel is freeing a thousand Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit's release. Many had been serving life sentences for deadly attacks on Israel. Thousands of people jammed the streets of Gaza to celebrate.
Hamas hailed the 'thousand for one' swap as a victory and called the freed Palestinians heroes in a struggle for statehood.
Hamas' political rival - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rallied crowds in the West Bank - calling the prisoners freedom fighters.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is warning the freed militants, anyone who returns to terror will be held accountable.
Some Israelis fought the release of Palestinian inmates, they say Israel will pay the price for making such an uneven deal.
447 Palestinian prisoners were released in the swap, another 550 are set to be released in about two months.