The Egyptian authorities have begun revoking the citizenship of Hamas leaders, according to reports in Palestinian and Egyptian media outlets.
The move is seen in the context of intensifying tensions between Egypt and Hamas in the aftermath of the downfall of deposed President Mohammed Morsi’s regime.
Under Morsi’s rule, the Egyptian authorities granted Egyptian citizenship to thousands of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, including top Hamas officials.
One of the Hamas leaders who received an Egyptian passport was Mahmoud Zahar, who was born to an Egyptian mother.
The Palestinian daily Al-Quds reported that the Egyptian authorities have taken effective measures to revoke the citizenship of Zahar and many other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
The paper quoted an Egyptian source as saying that the latest measure targeted Palestinians who are “affiliated with certain Palestinian political parties or those who are connected to outlawed groups in Egypt.”
The source pointed out that Egyptian law prohibits those who obtain Egyptian citizenship from engaging in political activities or membership in political parties in the first five years.
Palestinian sources claimed last year that the Egyptian authorizes had agreed to grant citizenship to more than 50,000 Palestinians who were born to Egyptian mothers.
Last month, the Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabe
revealed that Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim turned down a request by members of Zahar’s family to receive Egyptian citizenship.
The paper said that the decision was taken for “security reasons.” The decision applied to Zahar’s daughter, Huda, and his nephews, Abdullah and Ahmed.
Zahar confirmed last year that he had been granted Egyptian citizenship. He said that he was also planning to vote in the Egyptian presidential election.