Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood visited the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip for the first time on Saturday, signaling a shift in Cairo's posture toward the Palestinian Islamists since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
A delegation led by deputy Brotherhood chief Goma Amin met Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in celebration of the prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel brokered by Egypt last week. Under the prisoner swap, Hamas released Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian and Israeli-Arab prisoners.
"We came to participate in the joy at the release of brothers. We are proud of them," Amin told reporters. "Resistance proved itself."
The Brotherhood, a political party which, like Hamas, regards relations with the Jewish state as anathema, had been curbed by the U.S.-aligned Mubarak. He fell to a citizen revolt in February.
Mubarak had tried to mediate between Hamas and its Western-backed Palestinian rivals in the secular Fatah movement.
"This is the first delegation from the Brotherhood to visit Gaza," said Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the group in Cairo. "It wasn't allowed before to go there at all."
The prospect of the Brotherhood making electoral gains in post-Mubarak Egypt has stirred concern in Israel.
Ties between the countries have frayed since the Egyptian revolution though Cairo's interim military rulers say their peace remains solid.
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