About 50 members of the public attended the 12.30pm discussion, focusing on "The Gaza Trap", held on campus and co-ordinated by the university's National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies.
One of the panelists, Mai Tamimi, a Palestinian and Dunedin resident who has completed an Otago PhD in human geography, said she had spent many sleepless nights during the Gaza conflict.
She had been following news bulletins and trying to keep in touch, via the internet, with friends and family in Gaza, to check they were safe.
More than 30 Palestinian children and many other people had been killed.
She felt "very proud" New Zealand had recently voted to give Palestine observer status at the United Nations.
The "window of hope" for a Middle East peace settlement was still open, albeit by only a small fraction.
An Otago University politics scholar, Emeritus Prof Jim Flynn, said the recent conflict highlighted the "mutual tragedy" facing both Palestinians and Israelis.
Another panelist, Prof Andrew Bradstock, who is director of the university's Centre for Theology and Public Issues, said later there was scope for the New Zealand Government to use its good offices to promote genuine peace and understanding in the Middle East.
Another panelist, Associate Prof Richard Jackson, of the national centre, said violence would not ultimately resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he urged more publicity and support for non-violent forms of conflict resolution.
Prof Kevin Clements, director of the national centre, chaired the discussion.