Hamas the Palestinian militant organization, which fought with Israeli forces for close to two months this past summer, won a ruling in court that could lead to the group being removed from a list of terrorist groups compiled by the European Union.
The General Court of the EU located in Luxembourg announced that the decision by the European Commission to put Hamas, which is in control of the Gaza Strip, on a terrorist group list was not sufficiently thorough and based on factual imputations taken from the Internet and the press.
Hamas, which the U.S. also labels as a terrorist organization, is an Islamic militant movement that started in the 1980s in the Gaza Strip.
Israel has conducted three separate military operations against the group since 2007 when Hamas took complete authority of Gaza in an attempt to halt the rocket launching on its southern communities.
Israel maintains a blockade on part of Gaza that is labeled by the United Nations as harming the civilian Palestinian population.
A spokesperson from Hamas in Gaza said that removing Hamas from the blacklist of terrorist groups was a victory for all Palestinian people.
The court’s ruling was received with anger from Israel, where Benjamin Netanyahu the Prime Minister suggested the court should not be allowed to remove Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations due to a technicality.
Netanyahu said that Israel was not satisfied with the explanation the Europeans offered that removing Hamas from the terrorist organization list was due to an issue with procedure.
However, the court did not unfreeze funds of Hamas in the area, delaying that ruling for another three months to give the European Union an opportunity to make an appeal.
The court announced that it stresses that the annulments made on procedural grounds, do not imply any assessment of the question of how Hamas was classified as a terrorist organization.
In 2001, the EU added Hamas to its list of terrorist organizations and it has stayed there since then. The challenge today by the organization succeeded since the EU failed to examine concretely the factual elements in justifying the freezing of funds, said the court.
Paul Hirschson a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry in Israel said it was important to note that the decision does not represent an EU policy change with regard to Hamas and was only based upon an issue with procedure.