The son of a Canadian peace activist who went missing after a Hamas attack in Israel last month has confirmed his mother’s death, saying she was murdered by the militant group on October 7.
Vivian Silver, 74, born in Winnipeg, was reportedly one of 239 Israeli hostages captured by Hamas that day. One of her two sons, Yonatan Zeigen, told CTV News on Monday that Silver was actually killed by Hamas during the surprise attack.
Silver lived on Kibbutz Be’eri, on the edge of the Gaza Strip. She left her home in Winnipeg more than 50 years ago to live in Israel and work on peace initiatives.
Hamas militants stormed Israel on October 7 and launched the country’s deadliest attack in decades, killing more than 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostage, according to Israeli officials. .
Global Affairs Canada has already confirmed the deaths of six Canadians in Israel, as well as a non-Canadian with “deep ties to Canada.”
Following the attack, the Israeli government declared war as part of a campaign to crush Hamas.
In the six weeks that followed, more than two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents fled their homes.
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry estimates the Palestinian death toll at more than 11,000 people, two-thirds of whom are women and minors.
Zeigen has previously said that he does not believe violence is the right course of action and that his mother raised him to believe that peace is the only way to resolve the decades-long conflict in the Middle East .
“My fundamental belief is that military actions solve nothing,” he said. the Canadian Press in an article published on October 29.
“The October 7 attack was brutal (and) really brutal. But it happened in a certain context of this region, which has seen years and years of dehumanization of people on both sides,” Zeigen added .
Tributes pour in
As news of Silver’s death reached Canadians Monday evening, tributes were quick to pour in for Silver, who is remembered for his efforts to promote peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
Heather McPherson, NDP foreign affairs critic, was one of the first to post on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying she was “devastated” to learn of the activist’s killing.
“Vivian was a courageous peace activist and had friends all over the world. My heart breaks for her sons and everyone who knew her. The perpetrators must be brought to justice. May his memory be a blessing,” McPherson wrote.
Zeigen, who resides in Tel Aviv, said his mother’s mission was to bring peace to the region.
After retiring as CEO of an organization that promoted peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Silver became involved with another women’s organization with a similar goal, Zeigen told CTV National News’ Adrian Ghobrial this month. last, shortly after his mother’s kidnapping.
“She was a beacon of peace and justice, an ally of the Palestinian people,” Zeigen said at the time.
At one point, Silver volunteered with a group that drove Palestinian patients from Gaza to Israeli hospitals to receive medical treatment, he said.
Women Wage Peace, the Israeli women’s peace movement that Silver helped found, also posted on X, saying: “Our hearts are broken. »
Mélanie Joly, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, shared on X that she met Silver’s son in Tel Aviv and called her a “proud Israeli-Canadian.”
“He described her as kind, generous and selfless. Canada mourns his loss with him and his loved ones,” Joly said on X.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also shared a few words about pacifist.
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, also paid tribute to Silver.
“May his memory be a blessing, and may his courage and conviction be an example to us all,” Rae wrote on X. “May the killings and bombings be stopped long enough for the hostages to be freed.”
Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew also shared his condolences Monday evening on X., highlighting the former Winnipeg resident’s efforts to bring peace, especially in times of war.
“His memory and his quest for peace are a bright light that we will carry in our hearts during these dark times,” his message reads.
Idit Shamir, the Israeli consul general in Toronto, called the news of Silver’s death “tragic.”
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. May his memory be a blessing,” Shamir wrote.
With files from the Canadian Press and Adrian Ghobrial of CTV National News.