While one Hamas leader denied any break in ties with Egypt, thousands of the Islamist movement’s supporters rallied in the Gaza Strip on Friday to protest against a Cairo court decision banning the group from operating in the country.
Waving Egyptian flags and Hamas banners, the demonstrators gathered after Friday prayers and then marched to the former Egyptian embassy which has been closed since 2007.
The marchers held aloft placards called on Egypt to revoke Tuesday’s decision, including to seize Hamas’s assets, chanting “resistance, our way is resistance!”
At the rally, a senior Hamas official warned that the decision of the Cairo court would invite a new Israeli war against the Strip.
“Zionist politicians danced and rejoiced at the decision,” said Khalil al Hayya, adding that the ruling casts the Palestinian resistance movement as a crime.
Egypt has accused Hamas of colluding in attacks on its territory in the past few years, and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.
Egypt never recognized Hamas’s rule in Gaza after it forcibly ousted the more moderate Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza in 2007.
But it hosted Hamas’s deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk following Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011, and eased passage through its Rafah border crossing with Gaza.
Hamas parliamentarian Salah Bardawil used Marzuk as an example Friday when he claimed that there was no break in ties between the terror group and Egypt.
In an interview with the London-based Arab daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Bardawil claimed that Marzuk had not been asked to leave the country following the Cairo court’s decision.
Morsi, elected in June 2012, was seen as further bolstering the terrorist group’s power in Gaza by mediating a 2012 truce ending week-long fighting with Israel and that lifted some of the blockade restrictions on Gaza.
Since ousting him, the military has destroyed hundreds of smuggling tunnels under its border with the coastal enclave, alleging they were used to smuggle weapons and militants who have taken part in attacks on Egyptian security forces.
An Egyptian daily reported Thursday that the country’s security establishment intends to revoke the citizenship of thousands of Palestinians obtained during Morsi’s one-year term.
Security sources told Al-Youm A-Sabi’ that their agencies are seeking information on 13,757 Palestinians who received Egyptian citizenship from the Muslim Brotherhood government before its ouster. The sources said that most of the Palestinians in question are affiliated with Hamas.
Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.