The Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Sunday welcomed the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt's presidential vote, saying its ideological ally's success would help the Palestinian cause.
Gaza burst into celebration upon hearing that the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi had won elections, held 16 months after former President Hosni Mubarak fell to a people's rebellion last year.
Locked in a long power-struggle with its secular Palestinian rivals, Hamas had a mixed relationship with Mubarak, the U.S.-aligned Egyptian president who supported Israel's blockade on Gaza.
"We will look to Egypt to play a big, leading role, a historic role, regarding the Palestinian cause, in helping the Palestinian nation get freedom, return home, and totally end the Gaza siege," Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas government, told Reuters Television.
In Gazan streets, the jubilation recalled that which greeted Hamas' surprise victory in a Palestinian election in 2006.
Sweets were handed out to passersby, many of them waving Egyptian flags. Thanksgiving sermons echoed from mosque loudspeakers and gunmen fired in the air — the latter accidentally killing a man and wounding three other people, medical officials said.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood share ideological roots, including a hostility to Israel, with which Egypt signed landmark peace accords in 1979.
Another senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, vowed late Sunday that his party would never impinge on the security of neighboring Egypt, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported on Monday.
"The victory Morsi achieved is a victory for the program of triumph and liberation," he told a rally of thousands in Gaza City celebrating Morsi's victory, Maan reported.
"We are ready to sacrifice our blood to protect Egyptian soldiers," Maan quoted Zahar as saying.
Zahar said: "I would like to reassure the Egyptian people that Hamas will be in the service of Egypt, and never a burden to its security."
Meanwhile, senior Islamic Jihad leader Muhammad al-Hindi congratulated Egyptians for what he called their "national occasion."
The U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas also had warm words for the Muslim Brotherhood, calling Morsi "the choice of the great people of Egypt."
Saeb Erekat, a senior Abbas aide and chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel, said the democratic vote for Morsi, "meant the Palestinian cause was the number one priority for all Egyptians."
But Erekat said Palestinians had to heal the five-year-old and sometimes bloody schism between Hamas and Abbas' once-dominant Fatah faction.
"Regardless of who the Egyptian president is, Palestinian reconciliation is a Palestinian matter, and if we do not help ourselves, no one will," Erekat said.