The Palestinian territories erupted in unprecedented celebration on Saturday 22 June, following the victory of a 22-year-old Gaza resident in the Arab Idol talent show.

Mohammed Assaf, a communications student and wedding singer, had to plead with Hamas officials to be allowed to travel from Gaza to Beirut to take part in the contest.

By the time Assaf reached auditions in Egypt, it was already too late. However, he was allowed to compete after another Palestinian contender, impressed with Assaf's voice, gave away his audition slot.

Assaf, who grew up in Gaza's Khan Younis refugee camp, won the hearts of millions across the region. His choice of songs included many patriotic numbers, anthems and a few folk tunes.

"He sends our message to the world, that we don't like fighting, we don't like war. We need to have our rights like other people and we want to be happy," a Palestinian youth told the BBC.

As part of the celebrations, Gaza city was lit up with fireworks, and people danced in the streets, where crowds of revellers gathered to chant Assaf's name.

In the final, Assaf defeated Ahmed Jamal from Egypt and Farah Youssef from Syria.

According to a report in The Guardian, the young singer thanked his parents after winning and said that singing was his way of fighting his people's cause.

The Libya-born singer is the first Gaza resident ever to win the prestigious event.

"My dad is 71 years old and cries like a baby when he hears Mohammed Assaf on #ArabIdol sing for Palestine as audience chants Falasteen" a tweet from user ‏@LRJarrar reads.

"Mohammed Assaf didn't free Palestine. But he brought joy to people who didn't smile for the past 66 years of occupation," wrote another.

Assaf's fans included celebrities, business tycoons and even President Mahmoud Abbas, who called on all Palestinians to support the singer.

"This win is a source of pride and a victory for our people on the road to achieving its dream of establishing an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," President Mahmoud Abbas said after Assaf won the contest.

Hamas, the Sunni Islamist organisation, which does not approve of such shows, or music, has kept quiet about the event, notes the BBC.

Watch the emotional moment when Assaf discovered he'd won.