The Court of Urgent Matters ruled a freeze of activities of Hamas and the seizure of its offices in Cairo, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Tuesday.
The case against the Palestinian Islamist group was raised by lawyer Samir Sabry, known for having filed similar complaints in the past. In the complaint against the Palestinian group, Sabry claimed Hamas started off as a resistance movement in Palestine before turning into a terrorist organization.
According to the ruling published by Al-Ahram, the court ordered a freeze on all activities of the group inside Egypt, as well as those of “associations and groups affiliated to it, offshoots, or groups receiving its support until the two cases of the prison escapes and espionage are settled.”
Since former President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster, Egyptian prosecutors have repeatedly accused Hamas of undermining national security.
The call to label Hamas a terrorist organization was also motivated by the designation last December of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. The ruling implicates Hamas due to the two groups’ historical ties. Sabry’s complaint referenced Hamas’ 1988 charter in which it described itself as the arm of force of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The lawsuit against Hamas mentioned its illegal entry into Egypt in 2008 when the Egypt-Gaza border was breached within a year of the group taking power in the occupied strip. Hamas also plotted to free its prisoners in Egyptian jails during the January 25 revolution, the complaint claimed.
In one of the first reactions to the ruling, Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters the decision was aimed at hurting the Palestinian cause. Egypt has been brokering reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah in recent years.
Former foreign minister of the Hamas-led government in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, had previously said that a Morsi presidency was good news for Palestine. There were also preliminary talks about stepping up Hamas’ presence in Egypt in the wake of the Syrian conflict, which has affected key sources of funding and support for the Palestinian organization.
Following Morsi’s ouster by a military intervention in July, however, Hamas has reportedly moved to distance itself from the Muslim Brotherhood. Some Palestinian websites reported the group’s external leadership has instructed the Gaza government not to engage in any public statements of support for Morsi or the Brotherhood.
Yet Hamas has continuously criticized the Egyptian pro-military government since Morsi’s ouster for including its members in ongoing court cases against Morsi and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is accused by Egyptian prosecutors of plotting the release of imprisoned members of the group during the January 25 revolution and for conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to destabilize the country.