GAZA CITY (AFP) - Hamas led the cheers from the Muslim world Friday for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after he stormed out of an international debate on the Gaza war with Israeli President Shimon Peres. The group, which rules the tiny Palestinian territory, paid tribute to Erdogan's "courageous stand" after he angrily left the discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday. Erdogan "directly defended the victims of the criminal Zionist war against our children and women in Gaza," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement. "We consider his departure from the room an expression of support for the victims of the Holocaust carried out by the Zionists," he said. Senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya also showered Erdogan with praise and compared him to Sultan Mehmed II who conquered Constantinople in 1453, bringing an end to the Byzantine Empire. "The Palestinian people, the resistance and Hamas salute you, Erdogan," Hayya told a rally in Gaza City, during his first public appearance since the end of Israel's offensive on Gaza. "From Gaza the victorious, we stand at your side and alongside Turkey," he said. "You remind us of the glorious position of our Ottoman ancestors." He said captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will not be released until Israel frees Palestinian prisoners. "Shalit will not see the light of day as long as our prisoners don't see it either," Hayya told hundreds of people. "We are ready to speed up (efforts towards a swap) so the release of prisoners will take place," he said. Hundreds of Hamas followers demonstrated on Friday in Gaza City and in the northern town of Jabaliya to celebrate what the Islamist movement proclaimed was a "victory" against Israel, which ended its offensive on January 18. Erdogan's walkout from the debate, which also included UN chief Ban Ki-moon and Arab League secretary general Amr Mussa, earned him praise from other parts of the Muslim world and headlines across Europe and the Middle East. "Once again Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan proved that he is more Arab and human than most of Arab leaders, throwing the largest bomb in the history of Turkish-Israeli relations," columnist Mohammed Noor al-Deen wrote in Lebanon's pro-Hezbollah As-Safir Arabic daily. "Meanwhile, the reaction of Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa was considered a sin. "It was shocking and reflected weakness. Instead of leaving like Erdogan, Mussa, who officially represents all Arabs, went back to his seat after shaking hands with the prime minister," the columnist wrote. "The fact that Mussa sat next to the Israeli president raises questions," he wrote Veteran Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt sent a cable to Erdogan to praise him for his stance. "You have revived our sense of commitment to the nation's causes," he wrote. "Defending Palestine and the slaughtered people of Gaza forced the war criminal and child killer Peres to shut up." "We are proud of you and we are proud of Turkey," Jumblatt wrote. The United Arab Emirates' Al-Khaleej newspaper ran a front-page story saying Erdogan left the stage after he "exposed the Israeli Holocaust in Gaza and defended the Palestinians." Meanwhile, an Israeli government official in Jerusalem said relations with Turkish PM Erdogan will be hit after the incident. "This incident does not affect relations between the two countries, but it will affect our relations with the Turkish Prime Minister who violated the diplomatic rules of the game," the official, who asked not to be named, said.