Gazans Rally in Protest of Egypt Listing Hamas as a “Terrorist Organization”

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Published Monday, March 2, 2015

Thousands of Palestinians rallied in Khan Yunis and Gaza City on Sunday to protest Egypt's decision to list Hamas as a "terrorist organization.”

Senior Hamas leader Salah al-Bardawil told supporters at the rally that Hamas "will not allow Egyptian authorities to hurt our children, and will resist them like we resisted the (Israeli) occupation."

"Our patience has run out, and we call on Arab nations to pressure Egyptian authorities," he said.

Another senior leader, Ismail Radwan, described the decision as a "service to the Israeli occupation.” adding that branding Hamas as a terrorist group “does not represent the views of the Egyptian people."

"The Gaza Strip is not an easy prey. Those who threaten Gaza and Hamas should ask the occupation and (Israeli Defense Minister Moshe) Yaalon who is Hamas and al-Qassam Brigades," he added.

An Egyptian court on Saturday branded the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas a "terrorist" group over its alleged links with jihadists behind deadly attacks on security forces in the Sinai Peninsula.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood which the Egyptian authorities have also declared a terrorist group and have repressed systematically since the army ousted one of its leaders, Mohammed Mursi, from the presidency in 2013.

It came almost a month after a court on January 31 designated Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a "terrorist" group.

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

Egypt also accuses Hamas, which controls the neighboring Gaza Strip, of supporting Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Last March, Egypt banned all Hamas activities on its soil and froze its assets.

The court cited coordinated attacks in the northern Sinai at the end of January in which at least 25 soldiers were killed, saying that "the rockets used in this operation are found only in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas has repeatedly denied accusations that it has carried out attacks in the North African state, saying it cannot act against Egypt's national security.

Since then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi rose to power in Egypt in 2013 and was elected president, the country’s relationship with the besieged Gaza Strip has worsened.

In November, Egypt decided to create a one kilometer-deep buffer zone in the Sinai Peninsula along the border with Gaza by clearing more than 800 houses, displacing more than 1,100 families, and destroying and neutralizing hundreds of subterranean tunnels.

Gaza, which has been under a brutal illegal Israeli blockade for almost eight years, relied heavily on smuggling tunnels across the Egyptian border to obtain vital supplies. The only border crossing between Egypt and Gaza has also been routinely closed, leaving many Palestinians stranded or without access to important medical treatment.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has also repeatedly condemned the militant attacks in Egypt and denied any involvement.

However, the Sisi regime has clamped down severely on Mursi supporters. The crackdown has left at least 1,400 people dead and more than 15,000 imprisoned, with hundreds sentenced to death in trials the United Nations described as "unprecedented in recent history."

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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