A conference that opened in Sderot Monday, called 'Gaza-Sderot', brought a number of Palestinian residents of the Strip to the nearby southern town, where they stayed the night.
The delegation was meant to include 30 people, but only 15 succeeded in gaining entry into Israel after fervent security measures.
Many of the Palestinians who attended the conference asked to remain anonymous, for fear they would be attacked upon returning home.
Some of the representatives were hopeful. "If they succeeded in overturning the regime in Egypt, which is no less harsh than Hamas, then the Hamas regime can be toppled as well," one participant said.
He added that residents of the Strip "speak through social networks. Our advantage is that the internet cannot be blocked because the servers are in Israel."
Still, fear is rampant, he said, recounting efforts at staging an anti-Hamas protest last week, which went awry. "The attempt was blocked at the last minute. We talk amongst ourselves but there is always a chance that one of the speakers is a representative of Hamas," he said.
The conference met with much opposition on both sides. Though only a few residents of the Qassam-riddled town protested against it, Mayor David Buskila refused to participate because of the Palestinian guests. Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Schuster was in attendance, but called ahead of time for the invitations to Palestinians to be withdrawn.
A representative of the bereaved parents' forum, Rami Elhanan, spoke at the conference and called incidents on both sides of the border "crimes against humanity".
Also at the conference was UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, who gave a talk about conditions in the Strip. He said 60,000 homes had been destroyed so far in the Strip, and that unemployment had reached levels of over 50%. Gunness added that Israel must begin allowing construction supplies into Gaza.
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