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CAIRO — An Egyptian court declared Hamas a "terrorist organization" on Saturday, further isolating the blockaded rulers of the Gaza Strip once openly welcomed by the country's toppled Islamist-dominated government. The ruling is unlikely to have any immediate effect on Hamas, still reeling from last summer's war with Israel and choked by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade set up in 2007. Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas' No. 2 leader, is based in Cairo and is receiving medical treatment there, members of the group say.
The move underlines Egypt's increasing hostility to Hamas, which the court blamed for violence in the country's restive Sinai Peninsula. The secretive movement, founded in Gaza in 1987 as an offshoot of the region's Egyptian-originated Muslim Brotherhood, faces a growing cash crunch and has yet to lay out a strategy to extract Gaza from its increasingly dire situation. "There is no doubt that Hamas is being pushed into the corner further and further," said Mkhaimar Abu Sada, a political science professor at Gaza's Al Azhar University. Hamas' relationship with Cairo has "reached a point of no return" and is unlikely to be salvaged, he said.
The ruling Saturday by Judge Mohamed el-Sayed of the Court For Urgent Matters said Hamas had targeted both civilians and security forces inside the Sinai Peninsula, and that the group aimed to harm the country. Sinai has been under increasing attack by extremists since the Egyptian military ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.