Mr. Aman said he staved off despair by pouring himself into projects, like dancing or putting on plays with Israelis over online video, or a new plan to teach English and soccer to Gaza children eight to 10 years old.
He said the youth committee’s goal was to build a new generation of leaders who believe in making peace. And he encouraged the Israelis to do the same: “Be active, guys,” he told them, urging the Israelis to run for Parliament. “Go to the Knesset, be ministers,” he said.
“Let’s change the names,” he said. “Let’s create a new kind of Netanyahu, a new kind of Abu Mazen,” references to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the nickname of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
An Israeli man asked what Israelis could do to stop people from being raised to hate. Another youth committee member, Manar Al-Sharif, responded that the best way was for Israelis and Palestinians to talk, rather than relying on the news for information about one another.
Mr. Aman, who founded the youth committee 10 years ago, was asked if Hamas was aware of his actions. He noted he had been “invited” in for questioning many times, and had been held for 17 days last year after having organized an attention-getting bike ride with Israeli counterparts along both sides of the Gaza-Israel border.
“They thought I’m working as a spy, maybe sending names of fighters or maps of tunnels,” he said.
“Yes, it’s dangerous,” Mr. Aman acknowledged. “But we have nothing to lose.”
Still, Mr. Aman said he believed he had broken a “taboo” in Gaza about communicating with Israelis. “I’m sure that if I have a speaker and speak in public in the streets — ‘Let’s talk with an Israeli’ — thousands of people would be here,” he said.