Analysis: Hamas not afraid of Egypt ban

The Islamist organization does not have official representation in Egypt and has been isolated by the country since the ouster of Morsi.

Hamas marks 5th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. (photo credit: Reuters)
Hamas marks 5th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Palestinians dismissed the significance of an Egyptian court’s decision on Tuesday to ban Hamas activities in that country, saying it was unlikely to undermine the Islamist movement’s standing.
Others suggested that the move may even earn Hamas more sympathy among Palestinians and other Arabs.
The court stopped short of declaring Hamas a terrorist group, as has been done with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood organization.
Instead, it only talked about banning Hamas from carrying out activities in Egypt.
Given the fact that Hamas does not have any official representation or activities in the country, it’s hard to see how the decision will affect the movement.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official who lives in Cairo, reacted to the court decision by pointing out that his movement does not have any “organizations, groups, associations or institutions” in Egypt.
Moreover, the fact that the decision was taken by a circuit court and not by the government shows that the Egyptian authorities still haven’t decided to burn all their bridges with Hamas.
Palestinian analysts ruled out the possibility that the decision would damage the humanitarian and economic situation in the Gaza Strip.
One analyst, Hani al-Basous, told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that he did not expect the Egyptians to impose additional travel restrictions on Palestinians from the Gaza Strip in wake of the court decision.
He noted that the Rafah border crossing has anyway been closed most of the time since the removal of president Mohamed Morsi from power.
The decision did not come as a surprise to Hamas and other Palestinians.
Relations between Hamas and the Egyptian authorities have been deteriorating rapidly since the ouster of Morsi.
Hamas leaders who received a red-carpet welcome when Morsi was in power are now banned from entering Egypt. Over the past few months, the Egyptian authorities have destroyed most of the smuggling tunnels along the shared border with Gaza, further deepening the humanitarian and economic crisis in the Strip.
The Egyptian authorities and media have been waging a campaign aimed at depicting Hamas as a threat to Egypt’s national security.
As a result, many Egyptians are today convinced that Hamas is directly responsible for terrorist attacks against their soldiers and civilians.
Tuesday’s court decision is yet another nail in the coffin of Hamas- Egypt relations. Today, the Egyptians have no influence whatsoever on Hamas, which they consider a hostile movement and a threat to their national security.
The Egyptians will no longer be able to act as mediators when and if Hamas and Israel engage in another round of violence. Nor will the Egyptians be able to serve as mediators between Hamas and Fatah, which means an end to the Palestinians’ dream of achieving unity between the two rival parties.
Meanwhile, Fatah leaders seem to be the only ones who view the court decision as a positive step. In Ramallah, several senior Fatah officials did not hide their deep satisfaction with the anti-Hamas decision and expressed hope that it would shorten Hamas’s days in power in Gaza.