Egypt court overturns decision to outlaw Hamas

Hamas has not changed its murderous policies, yet an Egyptian court has overturned a prior decision designating it a terror organization. 

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News
Egyptian president al-Sisi. (Photo: nrc.nl)

Egyptian President al-Sisi. (nrc.nl)

A Cairo court in February declared the Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, a “terrorist element,” but a higher court in Egypt overturned the decision and took it off the state’s designated list of terror organizations.

The Urgent Matters Appeals Court cited a lack of jurisdiction as the reason for annulling the earlier court’s ruling.

There was no immediate government reaction to the court’s decision.

Sami Abu Zuhri, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, welcomed the court’s ruling, saying it would have “positive consequences on the relationship between Hamas and Egypt.”

Hamas leader Ismail Radwan said the move was a “positive and important development and a step in the right direction” that would “initiate good and stable relations with Egypt.”

Mousa Abu Marzouq, vice speaker of Hamas’s political bureau, said that it has “never practiced terrorism” and that it only exercises “resistance” within the “Palestinian territories.”

“Hamas has been exerting great efforts to improve bilateral relations with Cairo. Yet, the Egyptian media and judiciary impeded such efforts,” he said, adding that he hopes that the court’s latest decision will “open a new page in bilateral relations as we deem it positive.”

Abu Marzouq expressed eagerness for Egypt to resume its role as mediator between Israel and Hamas. Hamas rejected their mediation after the February court ruling.

Saturday’s ruling came after months of increasing hostility between Cairo and Gaza, during which the terror organization threatened attacks against Egypt.

February’s ruling isolated Hamas financial and politically. In recent months Egypt has appeared increasingly antagonistic towards Hamas, which it has blamed for violence and terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt continues campaign against Hamas tunnels

Egypt’s new government, led by President Abd Fattah al-Sisi, recently began clearing a buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip in an attempt to destroy a cross-border network of tunnels that Hamas uses to smuggle everything form cigarettes to cars, including weapons.

Egypt demolishes Gaza tunnels

Egyptian forces demolishes Gaza tunnels. (AP/Adel Hana)

Egyptian military forces will begin to evacuate more homes located adjacent to the Gaza Strip border in July in an ongoing expansion of the no-go zone between Egypt and the Palestinian coastal enclave, Egyptian military sources said Saturday, according to Palestinian Ma’an news agency. Some 10,000 residents of the city of Rafah are expected to be affected by this latest Egyptian expansion of the buffer zone.

A fertile ground for smuggling tunnels running underground between the two sides, Egypt has evacuated thousands of Palestinian homes this year. Work on the buffer zone on the Egyptian side began in February 2014, but was at the time slated to extend only about 300 meters in urban areas and 500 meters in rural areas.

After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up a campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack.

Around 1,110 houses on the Egyptian side had been demolished by the end of April to make way for the expanding buffer zone, with more than 1,000 families displaced.

Egyptian military sources say that to eradicate the potential danger of smuggling tunnels “once and for all,” the current no-go area should reach 5,000 meters and be protected with a water canal dug alongside it.

AP contributed to this report.