Presidential decree to impose harsh penalties on illegal borders tunnels

CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi issued a presidential decree to toughen up punishment against any person involved in digging tunnels or constructing roads or routes in border areas to be used for purposes that are against the law, Presidential Spokesman Ehab Badawy said in a Thursday statement.

Rigorous imprisonment is the penalty for those digging tunnels around border areas, the new decree stated.

A question mark was raised over whether this law will be applied on Egyptians only or foreigners as well. Experts voted that no one will be given immunity from this law.

The decree law aimed to maximize penalties against all those who harm Egypt’s security, Hossam Sweilem, former director of the Armed Forces Center for Research and Strategic Studies told The Cairo Post Saturday.

He confirmed that the law will be applied on everybody no matter what the nationality is.

“This law will ultimately lead to a reduction in the number of terrorist attacks as these illegal tunnels are used to smuggle arms and weapons,” Sweilem said.

“Islamist militants affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood represent a major concern for Egypt’s security,” said Sweilem who added that people of Gaza are not a threat to Egypt’s national security as they seem keen to improve their relations with Egypt.

Shadi Talat president of the Lawyers Union for Democratic and Legal Studies told Sada al Balad that the Palestinian government will not issue any law that prohibits digging tunnels as the majority of Palestinian people support terrorist acts and violence.

“Sisi’s new decree is an important and inevitable step, but Hamas will not apply this law anyway,” former Jihadist leader Sheikh Nabil Naim told Sada al Balad Saturday, adding that this decree is the first of its kind as there were no laws in Egypt criminalizing such actions.

Naim emphasized that “Palestinian peoples rebuild tunnels that were demolished by the government, so this law is the only way to block the two-way inter-terror traffic ongoing between Sinai and the Gaza Strip.”

Mohamed Ali Bilal, former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, expected violence to reduce in Sinai after applying the new Law, Sada al Balad reported.

“Palestinian government should prevent infiltration into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing,” Bilal added.

Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July, Egypt- Hamas ties have been strained as armed forces have destroyed smuggling tunnels at the Gaza-Egypt border.

Cairo has accused Hamas of ties with the Muslim Brotherhood group in carrying out terror attacks in the past few years, but Hamas has repeatedly denied all the accusations.

On March 4, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters  banned any activities of Hamas within Egyptian territory.

“Hamas has no existence in Egypt,” Hamas leader and deputy head of foreign affairs Ghazi Hamad told The Cairo Post via telephone in March.

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