Egypt court bans Palestinian Hamas group
CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Palestinians wave Hamas flags as they take part in a rally calling on Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah border crossing, at the crossing in the southern Gaza Strip February 28, 2014. REUTERS PhotoAn Egyptian court on Tuesday banned the activities of the Palestinian militant Hamas group that rules the neighbouring Gaza Strip and ordered its assets seized, a judicial source said.
Hamas denounced the move, which it said "serves the (Israeli) occupation." Egyptian officials have accused Hamas of plotting with deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement to carry out "terror attacks" in the country.
Several Hamas militants have been named among scores of defendants on trial with Morsi for organising jailbreaks and attacking police stations during the 2011 revolt that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak.
In a separate espionage trial, Morsi and 35 other defendants are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, including Sunni Hamas and Shiite Iran, to destabilise Egypt.
Ties between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, flourished during Morsi's year in power but have deteriorated since the military overthrew him on July 3.
Cairo's new military-installed authorities were furious after Hamas officials openly criticised their decision to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood, the target of a deadly crackdown since Morsi's ouster.
Amnesty International says more than 1,400 people have been killed in street clashes, mostly Islamist supporters of Morsi, since his overthrow.
Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told AFP the court's decision was "an attempt to besiege the resistance, and serves the Israeli occupation."
Egyptian troops have destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the border with Gaza used to supply the Palestinian enclave with fuel and construction materials due to Israeli restrictions.
Hamas has denied accusations by Egyptian officials that it is involved in fighting in the Sinai Peninsula, where militant attacks on security forces have surged since July.