CAIRO — An Egyptian court has issued a ruling temporarily banning all activity in Egypt by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and confiscating its property. Hamas was a close ally of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, and many Egyptians accuse it of aiding Islamist militants fighting the Egyptian Army in the Sinai.
The ruling to outlaw Hamas on Egyptian soil was issued by a Cairo court pending a final ruling in a broader case involving alleged espionage between Hamas and the government of ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
The Cairo Court for Urgent Proceedings acted after a complaint by an Egyptian attorney alleging Hamas ties to Egypt's Brotherhood. Hamas' leaders have been outspoken in their support for the Brotherhood since Egypt's military ousted Morsi last July.
Egypt's military-backed interim government accuses Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, of aiding and abetting Islamist militants in the northern Sinai. The Egyptian military has bombed smuggling tunnels between Gaza and the Sinai to prevent militants from using Gaza as a logistics base.
Ezzat Rashaq, a Hamas official, criticized the Egyptian court ruling as a “dangerous precedent” and said it “opened the door to Israeli aggression” against Gaza. Rashaq insisted the ruling was political and claimed it was part of a media campaign against his group.
Many of Hamas' top leaders, including senior politburo member Moussa Abu Marzouk, moved to Cairo from their long-time headquarters in Damascus in 2011 after a largely Sunni-inspired uprising broke out against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.
Many of those leaders had their offices in the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, which has been ravaged by internecine fighting.