Canadian-Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver, whose family believed she had been taken hostage by Hamas militants during their brutal attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, is dead, Global News has confirmed.
Five sources including a source close to the family and Israeli government confirmed the 74-year-old Winnipeg native’s death to Global News.
Messages left with Silver’s family were not responded to on Monday. Global Affairs Canada has yet to confirm the death of another Canadian.
Silver grew up in Winnipeg and moved to Israel in the 1970s. She quickly became a fierce campaigner, helping to launch and run various aid organizations, including Women Wage Peace.
In 2017, Silver organized a march for peace on the shores of the Jordan River in the West Bank, condemning an earlier Israeli attack that killed Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Even into her 70s, she would drive sick Palestinians from Gaza to hospitals in Israel.
Silver’s son Yonatan Ziegen previously told Global News he phoned his mother after hearing reports that Hamas gunmen were attacking civilians near her home in Be’eri Kibbutz, close to the Gaza border, on Oct. 7.
Ziegen, who lives with his wife and children in Tel Aviv, said he and his mother switched to texting through WhatsApp after he heard gunshots and screams in the background of their call.
“So we stopped talking so (the gunmen) wouldn’t hear,” he told Global News. “We continued corresponding through WhatsApp up until the point she wrote me to say, ‘They’re inside the house.’”
The house was later burned to the ground.
Silver’s other son, Chen Zeigen, said during an interview on The West Block last week that the family was contacted by the Israeli government shortly after the attack to say it had geolocated Silver’s phone in Gaza.
That lone piece of information had led the family to hold out hope that Silver was still alive and held captive along with more than 200 others in Gaza.
“I feel there is still hope that she is alive and well and that we will be able to see her back with us,” Chen Zeigen said.
Six other Canadian citizens and one person with “deep connections to Canada” were killed in the Hamas attacks, according to Global Affairs Canada.
—With files from Jeff Semple, Mercedes Stephenson and Caryn Lieberman
More to come…
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.