Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has issued a decree, rendering the digging or using of illegal border tunnels punishable by life term.
“Anyone who digs or prepares or uses a road, a passage, or an underground tunnel in the country’s border areas with the purpose of connecting with a foreign entity or state, its citizens or residents… will face life in prison,” said the presidential decree published in the official gazette on Sunday.
According to the decree, those who are aware of such tunnels and refrain from informing authorities also face life in prison, which in Egypt amounts to 25 years behind bars.
The Egyptian government claims that it has destroyed vast numbers of such routes and has recently intensified efforts to demolish such underground passages which connect the restive Sinai Peninsula to the Palestinian Gaza Strip.
A tunnel is seen under Gaza-Egypt border in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.(file photo)
Palestinians use the underground tunnels to transfer essential supplies, including food and fuel into Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007, a situation which has caused a decline in the standard of living, unprecedented levels of unemployment, and unrelenting poverty.
Israel not only defies international calls to lift the brutal siege, but also refuses to allow medication or construction materials into coastal enclave.