An Egyptian court declared Gaza's ruling Hamas faction a terrorist group Saturday, one month after a similar ruling against its military wing. Another court also condemned Egypt's top Muslim Brotherhood leaders to life in prison, over bloodshed during an attack on the group's Cairo headquarters in June 2013.
The decision by the Court of Urgent Matters declaring Hamas a “terrorist organization” was a fresh blow to the already isolated Islamist group. Relations between the Egyptian government and Hamas have deteriorated in recent months after the Egyptian Army began sealing off remaining tunnels between Gaza and the northern Sinai.
Presiding Judge Mohamed el Sayed insisted that Hamas was actively working to harm Egyptian security. “It has been proven without any doubt,” he said, “that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations, and the killings of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.”
Hamas' spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied the charges, claiming that Egypt had stained its reputation by targeting the Palestinian people and what he called the “resistance.”
He says Hamas does not accept the Egyptian court decision, considering it a dangerous new attack against the Palestinian people and resistance, which seeks to label the Palestinian people an enemy and the Israeli occupiers friends and to export Egypt's own political crisis.
The decision, aimed at Hamas' political wing, followed a similar court ruling against its military branch, the “Ezzedin Kassam Brigades,” about a month ago. The court said that it had concluded from various documents that Hamas militants “carried out bombings that have taken lives,” and that the group “works for the interests of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood.”
Many Egyptian analysts see Hamas as an offshoot of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, dating back to Egypt's rule over Gaza from 1948 to 1967. Egypt had close ties with Hamas under ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, who ran the country from June 2012 to July 2013.
Egypt's intelligence service, under successive governments, has actively mediated between Israel and Hamas, following conflicts in Gaza in 2009, 2012, and 2014, and between Hamas and the rival Fatah faction, under Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.
In an unrelated trial, an Egyptian court sentenced top Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including the group's General Guide Mohamed Badie, to life in prison, for the killings of police officers and civilians during an attack on the group's Cairo headquarters in June 2013.