March 4, 2013 An Egyptian court has banned all Hamas activities in Egypt and closed the Palestinian militant group’s offices in the country, according to an unnamed judge.
The group controls the neighbouring Gaza Strip in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and represents an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, whom the interim government has classified as a terrorist group since the overthrow of its leader, Mohamed Morsi, from the presidency last year.
‘The court has ordered the banning of Hamas work and activities in Egypt,’ the judge told Reuters.
Hamas condemned the court’s decision, accusing Egyptian officials of trying to damage the Palestinian cause.
Egyptian officials view Hamas as a security threat on the country’s border, accusing the group of supporting al Qaeda-linked Islamist militants in the Sinai Peninsula, allegations that the group denies.
The case was filed by Egyptian lawyers who requested that Hamas activities be banned and the group designated as a terrorist organisation.
Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders are being held in detention in Egypt on a variety of charges, including two cases involving Hamas members.
One case accuses Hamas militants of aiding Morsi in his escape from prison in 2011 and the other case accuses Morsi and other Brotherhood members of leaking state secrets to Hamas.
Egyptian officials have previously hinted that they wish to remove Hamas from Gaza, supporting rivals Fatah and anti-Hamas activities in the occupied strip.
Since coming to power last summer, Egypt’s military-backed government has hindered Gaza’s economy by closing 1,200 smuggling tunnels into the occupied territory used to import food, cars and weapons.
US media reported in January that Hamas was under what was described as severe economic strain as a result of losing income from the shuttered Gaza smuggling tunnels. The GMBDW also reported in January on what was described the “rapprochement” between Hamas and Iran following a three year breach as well as on the continuing decline of relations between Hamas and Egypt.
The Hamas charter says that it is “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine” and soon after Hamas took over the Gaza strip, Muslim Brotherhood representatives traveled to Gaza from Egypt through the newly-opened border to review Hamas military formations. A Hamas journalist has acknowledged the role that the “international Muslim Brotherhood” has played in providing funds for the purchase of weapons and Hamas is known to be supported financially and politically by the global Muslim Brotherhood. A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman revealed that a coalition of London-based Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, were behind the mass demonstrations staged to protest Israeli actions in the 2008 Gaza war and the Global Muslim Brotherhood and its Turkish affiliates were also intimately involved, along with the Turkish government, in the June 2010 Gaza flotilla that was involved in a violent altercation with Israeli naval forces. Following a period of seeming ascension related to the period of Egyptian rule by the Muslim Brotherhood, the organization was forced to scramble to try and find other state sponsors after Mohamed Morsi was deposed as President. In September 2013, it appeared that Hamas had succeeded in re-establishing close ties with Iran. In January 2013, Israeli intelligence sources claimed that Turkey has replaced Iran as the chief source of Hamas financing.