The Gaza Strip erupted in celebratory gunfire today with news that the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate had secured the presidency in neighbouring Egypt.
Tens of thousands of joyous Palestinians took to the streets across the territory after Egypt announced that Mohammed Morsi had won last weekend’s runoff election, the first time an Islamist has held that nation’s highest office.
Gunmen fired automatic weapons in the air, while mosque loudspeakers rang with prayer. Some revellers handed out sweets, others waved Egyptian flags and blasted the country’s national anthem from car speakers.
A Gaza health official said that one person was killed and six others wounded by celebratory gunfire.
Gaza is ruled by the militant Islamic Hamas, a local offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, collaborated with Israel in a blockade of Gaza they said was necessary to prevent weapons from reaching Hamas.
Now Gaza residents say they are optimistic that the new Egyptian leader will improve relations with the impoverished Palestinian territory.
“Today is new era for us in Gaza. The days of suffering due to the Egyptian authorities are over,” said Rawhi Talab, 51, a food store owner. “It’s a day of joy ... I voice my hope that Egypt will work to improve our life here,” he said.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned Mr Morsi to congratulate him on becoming Egypt’s first Islamist president. “This is a victory for all Arabs and Muslims, and this is God’s promise to his believers,” the Hamas leader said to the newly elected president.
Hamas planned rally tonight in support of Mr Morsi.