CAIRO: A presidential decree has been released to regulate regions near Egypt’s borders, and to categorize them into “prohibited” and “restricted” areas, according to a Sunday presidential statement.
Similar laws on borders were previously issued, but they were based on the expired emergency law issued in 1981 and ended in 2012, presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef said in the statement. According to the decree, it is illegal for people by any means of transportation above or below ground to enter prohibited areas, except armed forces personnel, equipment and vehicles, and civilians with military authorization.
All border crossings are exempted from the decree. The western cities of Salloum, Sidi Barrani, Siwa Oasis and the southeastern town of Halayeb are also exempted.
The city of Rafah on the Palestine-Egypt border is also exempted, except for a five-kilometer stretch near the Palestinian side of Rafah.
The military is emplacing a kilometer-wide buffer zone between Egypt and its 12 kilometer border with Gaza to thwart smuggling and demolish smuggling tunnels. Hundreds of homes and Sinai locals were evacuated from the area to leave room for the buffer zone, and the military said millions of dollars will be dispersed in compensation.
The decision to build a buffer zone followed coordinated militant attacks in North Sinai on Oct. 24 that killed over 30 military personnel.
And in July, 22 soldiers were killed in another attack in Farafra, Wadi Gedid, near the Libyan border. The government claimed “foreign elements” helped in the execution of both attacks.
Permanent residents of the Mediterranean Matrouh governorate 240 kilometers west of Alexandria have since July 1967 largely been allowed to access the border crossing at Salloum without a permit. Salloum is 145 kilometers from Tobruk in Libya.
Permanent residents of the governorates of the southern Red Sea, Aswan and Wadi Gedid governorates since 1987 are also allowed in restricted areas in their governorates without a permit.