Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams on Thursday denounced the Israel-led blockade on Gaza as has having made the coastal strip into an "open-air prison," news outlets reported.
"This is a total denial of the rights of the people of Palestine. This is an open-air prison," The Guardian quoted the Sinn Fein president as saying during a visit to the Hamas-ruled territory. "People can't travel out of here, they can't travel in."
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas ousted its secular rival Fatah in a bloody 2007 coup.
During the visit, Adams met with the Palestinian Islamist group's Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh.
According to the Palestinian news agency Ma'an, Haniyeh told the Northern Irish republican leader that Israel achieved nothing in its recent offensive against Hamas apart from "killing innocent men, women, children and police officers."
Adams, for his part, called for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to prevent a repeat of Operation Cast Lead.
"The obligation is that what happened here doesn't happen again," AFP quoted Adams as saying.