GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky reportedly called for an end to Israel's siege of Gaza, on his first ever visit to the Hamas-ruled enclave on Thursday.
Chomsky, who was in the Gaza Strip for a conference at the Islamic University, called "to end the Israeli siege on Gaza," a member of Gaza's legislative council and head of the university's administrative board, Jamal al-Khudari, told AFP.
"The Palestinian people have a right to live peacefully and in freedom," Khudari also quoted Chomsky as saying.
Israel says its blockade of the coastal strip, first imposed in June 2006 and tightened in September 2007, is necessary to prevent weapons from entering the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement.
"Our trip to Gaza was very difficult, but we arrived here and I saw several things which I hoped before to see," Chomsky said in remarks broadcast on Palestinian television from the university on Thursday evening.
In May 2010, Israel barred Chomsky from entering the West Bank, where he was to deliver a lecture. He finally broadcast his speech by video link from Jordan.
On Saturday, Chomsky was to deliver a speech on the Arab Spring and the future of foreign policy in the region. He will also meet with NGOs, especially human rights groups, Khudari said.
"We organised a programme for him to tour refugee camps."
The Palestinian lawmaker noted Chomsky, travelling with an academic delegation, coordinated his entry to Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egyptian authorities.
Chomsky is a professor of linguistics at the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent critic of American foreign policy. He has frequently spoken out against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.