Hamas no longer accepts Egypt as Israel mediator, source close to group says

Court in Cairo rules to ban the Qassam Brigades and list it as terrorist organization.

By REUTERS
January 31, 2015 19:09
2 minute read.
hamas rafah

Hamas members at an anti-Israel rally in Rafah in southern Gaza, November 13, 2014. . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Hamas on Saturday dismissed an Egyptian court’s decision to declare its armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, a terrorist organization.

“The court ruled to ban the Kassam Brigades and to list it as a terrorist group,” Judge Muhammad al-Sayid of the special Cairo court that deals with urgent cases said earlier in the day. Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

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The ruling came two days after a series of terrorist attacks killed 30 Egyptians and wounded 45 others in Sinai.

Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip condemned the decision as “dangerous and unacceptable.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the ruling serves only the interests of Israel. “This is a dangerous political ruling,” he said.

Abu Zuhri said that Hamas is opposed to any attempt to involve its members in the internal affairs of Egypt.

“The Kassam is the address for confrontation with the Israeli occupation and a symbol of the dignity of our nation,” he added.

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Salah Bardaweel, another senior Hamas official, described the court ruling as a “dangerous precedent.” He too claimed it was politically motivated.

Bardaweel said that Hamas was not linked in any way to the terrorist attacks in Sinai. “The Egyptian leadership is seeking to turn the Palestinian resistance into a scapegoat in order to appease the furious Egyptian street,” he said.

“We strongly condemn this decision, which came shortly after a European Union court decided to remove Hamas from the EU’s list of terrorist organizations.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum complained that the Egyptian media has been waging a “smear campaign” against his movement following the Sinai attacks. He too denied Hamas involvement in them.

The case was based on allegations that Izzadin Kassam staged terrorist attacks to support the Brotherhood, and carried out a bombing and shooting operation that killed 33 security personnel in Sinai in October.

A source close to Hamas' armed wing signaled the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel. "After the court's decision Egypt is no longer a mediator in Palestinian-Israeli matters," the source told Reuters.

Cairo has for many years played a central role in engineering cease-fires between Israel and Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, including a truce reached between the sides in August that ended a 50-day Gaza war.

Egyptian officials say weapons are smuggled from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip into Egypt, where they end up with terrorist groups fighting to topple the Western-backed Cairo government.

Islamists based in Sinai have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The insurgency has spread to other parts of Egypt.

On Thursday night, four separate attacks on security forces in the North Sinai Governorate were among the worst in years. Islamic State’s Egyptian wing, Sinai Province, claimed the killing of at least 30 soldiers and police officers.

More than 25 people were killed last weekend when security forces fired at protesters angered by what many perceive as a police state reestablished since Morsi’s fall.

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