• Reuters

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An Egyptian court on Saturday banned the armed wing of Palestinian group Hamas and listed it as a terrorist organization, a ruling in keeping with a systematic crackdown on Islamists by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

El-Sissi said on Saturday Egypt faces a tough, prolonged campaign against militancy. “(It) will be difficult, strong, evil and will take a long time,” he said in comments broadcast on state television after meeting top military officers.

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

The ruling came days after Egypt was hit with some of the bloodiest Islamist militant attacks on security forces in years.

“The court ruled to ban the (Hamas) Qassam Brigades and to list it as a terrorist group,” said Judge Mohamed al-Sayid of the special Cairo court that deals with urgent cases.

The case was based on allegations that the Qassam Brigades staged terrorist attacks to support the Brotherhood, and carried out a bombing and shooting operation which killed 33 security personnel in the Sinai Peninsula in October of 2014.

A source close to Hamas’ armed wing signaled the group would no longer accept Egypt as a broker between it and Israel.

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