Thousands of Hamas supporters rallied in the Gaza Strip on Friday to protest against a Cairo court decision banning the Palestinian Islamist movement from operating in Egypt.
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!”
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 Mohamed Morsi.
Hamas slammed the ruling as playing into the hands of its arch-enemy Israel, calling it “shocking” and warning it could “open the door to new (Israeli) aggression and war against Gaza.”
Egypt never recognised Hamas’s rule in Gaza after it forcibly ousted the more moderate Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmud 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.
Morsi, elected in June 2012, was seen as further bolstering the militant 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.