Egypt criminalizes Gaza smuggling tunnels


New Egyptian law criminalizes construction or operation of smuggling tunnels to Gaza making violation of the law punishable by imprisonment.

By i24news


Egyptian sources announced the passage of a new law criminalizing the construction and operation of tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, Ma’an reported.

Tents cover entrances of tunnels used for smuggling along the Gaza-Egypt border, near the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on August 6 2012 – Photo: AFP

The State Council included an article in the law according to Penal Code Law 82 subjecting anyone constructing, operating, or using tunnels between Egypt and a neighboring territory to imprisonment.

Smuggling tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt have provided a vital lifeline for the territory, especially in light of the Israeli blockade of the coastal territory.

The law came in tandem with a legal plan prohibiting photographing identity cards belonging to Egyptian armed service members to prevent the production of counterfeit identity cards.

The same plan also prohibits producing, owning, or wearing military or armed forces uniforms except by permission of the authorities.


Other security measures

Earlier this year, the Egyptian army launched an operation aimed at creating a buffer zone along Egypt’s border with the Gaza strip. The campaign began with the destruction of ten smuggling tunnels and seven homes in the border city of Rafah, located in the Sinai Peninsula, Palestinian new agency Ma’an reported.

According to Ma’an, the buffer zone would extent 500 meters in open areas along the border and 300 meters in populated areas of Rafah.

Relations between Hamas and Egypt’s rulers have been tense. Cairo accuses the Islamist faction of meddling in its affairs on behalf of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, an ally of Hamas — an allegation Hamas rejects.

A military operation against Islamist militants operating in Sinai was initially launched by Egyptian forces in September 2013 as a response to the growing tension and violence in Sinai following the July 3 coup that resulted in the ousting of the democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.


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