July 15, 2024

A Canadian Israeli peace activist who was thought to have been abducted and taken to Gaza on Oct. 7 was confirmed to have been killed in the initial attack that day, according to her son.

During the attack, the activist, Vivian Silver, 74, wrote to members of the Women Wage Peace group that she had helped found, telling them that terrorists had entered her home at Kibbutz Be’eri in southern Israel and that she was hiding in a safe room. Because her body was not initially found in the ashes of her home, which had been set on fire, her friends and family thought she was missing.

The Israeli government believes that more than 230 hostages taken on Oct. 7 are held in Gaza, including children and older people from several countries.

Ms. Silver’s photo has been featured on posters plastered in cities across the world to draw attention to the Oct. 7 abductions, and her story has been widely shared.

Her family was formally notified of her death by Israeli authorities, her son, Chen Zeigen, said on Tuesday.

Ms. Silver was known for her commitment to peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians. After the war in Gaza in 2014, she co-founded Women Wage Peace, which lobbies for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict. She also helped found and direct the Arab-Jewish Center for Empowerment, Equality, and Cooperation and served for years on the board of directors of B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

Ms. Silver regularly drove sick Palestinians from Gaza, near her home, into Israel for medical treatment as part of the Road to Recovery organization.

“We never stopped hoping that she was kidnapped, that she’s alive, that she’s with other people, that she would come back to us,” said Yael Braudo-Bahat, a co-director of Women Wage Peace whom Ms. Silver mentored, in an interview.

Susan Lax, a longtime friend who met Ms. Silver about five decades ago at a kibbutz, said she had been immediately drawn to her.

“She was my role model for women’s rights, for feminism, and for never ever giving up on peace,” Ms. Lax said.

Ms. Silver would have wanted the work of Women Wage Peace to continue, Ms. Braudo-Bahat said.

“Vivian is sitting on my shoulder from now on,” she said. “I’m going to apply all of the things I learned from her so that there will be peace here.”

Roni Rabin contributed reporting.

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