An army check point in North Sinai's Al-Arish city mid-July 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
The leftist Popular Current has accused the army of arresting innocent civilians in the Sinai Peninsula during their crackdown on militants.
In a statement released on Tuesday the group founded by Nasserist politician Hamdeen Sabbahi backed the military's operations against “terrorism” but highlighted a number of abuses.
For example, the group said “innocent civilians” had been killed at Soliman El-Sayah and Mustafa Nasr checkpoints in late August, and “The closure of main roads prevents workers, farmers and students from travelling without offering alternatives.”
The local government in North Sinai has failed to monitor the military operation which has completely paralysed state institutions in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah, the group added
The army randomly arrests citizens who they claim are Takfiri elements [radical Islamists], then later releases them, according to the group.
It cited the case of a mentally ill man called Mousa Hassan who was sentenced to five years in prison for allegedly being a member of a militant group.
“We demand extra caution and procedures to protect civilians. Operations against terrorism should not lead to violations against civilians," added the statement which also called on the National Council for Human Rights and NGOs to coordinate with the government and army for an immediate investigation into violations against Sinai civilians.
At a press conference on 15 September, army spokesman Ahmed Ali denied the army had attacked civilians in Sinai, saying that "If we had used excessive violence in Sinai, we would have ended terrorism within 24 hours."
Ali said respecting human rights is a priority for the army and accused Sinai-based journalist Ahmed Abu Deraa of publishing false news about the army, including accusations it had killed children in Sinai.
Following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, the army has launched a military operation against terrorist and criminal groups in Sinai.