Israel peace activist who advocated for Palestinian rights confirmed dead

A Canadian-Israeli peace activist who advocated for Palestinian rights has been confirmed dead a month after she was reported missing during Hamas’s 7 October attacks, her family said.

Vivian Silver, who was the founder of Women Wage Peace and the Arab-Jewish Center for Equality, had been missing from her home in Kibbutz Be’eri near the Gaza border.

Women Wage Peace said in a post on X: “Our beloved friend, Vivian Silver, was murdered in her home at kibbutz Be’eri on October 7”.

Her son Yonatan Zeigen told CBC News that her mother’s remains were found earlier but forensic examiners only identified them now.

After Hamas’s deadly attack in Israel, Women Wage Peace said the militants entered her house during the early morning hours as she hid behind a cupboard door.

They feared that she had been most likely abducted by the Palestinian militants among 240 other Israeli civilians as there was “no evidence there of a struggle or bullets” at her home.

Revealing what was his last exchange with his mother, Mr Zeigen told BBC that she made light of the moment to not worry him as militants moved through the area. She told him “it’s time to stop joking and say goodbye”.

“And I wrote back that ‘I love you, Mum. I have no words, I’m with you’”, he said remembering their conversation over messages.

“Then she writes, ‘I feel you.’ And then that was it, that’s the last message.”

Canadian foreign minister Melanie Joly described Silver as a “proud Israeli-Canadian and lifelong advocate for peace” in a post on X.

“I met her son in Tel Aviv, and he described her as kind, generous, and selfless,” she said. “Canada mourns her loss with him and her loved ones.”

The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg also mourned her loss and said they were “devastated” to find it.

“Vivian was a civilian brutally taken from her home, and now we know, from all of us, forever,” the group said on Facebook.

“She was a renowned pacifist who tirelessly advocated for peace and the improvement of the quality of life for Palestinians. We are with heavy hearts as we learn of the impact of Hamas’ terrorist attack and as time passes, to learn of the identity of those massacred in Israel.”

The Hamas attacks killed 1,200 people and led to a war between Israeli forces and the Palestinian militants. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza in Israeli bombardment.

Silver relocated from Winnipeg to Israel in 1974. She devoted herself to speaking out against the way Israel treated Palestinians and actively opposed the Gaza blockade that had been in effect since 2007.

It comes as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there “could be” a potential deal to release some of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas.

Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing also said that they were preparing to release up to 70 women and children held in Gaza in return for a five-day truce. But said it is being delayed as Israel was “procrastinating and evading” the terms of the deal.

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