Vivian Silver, the veteran peace activist who was believed to be among the approximately 240 Israeli civilians and soldiers kidnapped by Hamas on October 7, is now confirmed to have been killed on the morning of the attack.
The Canadian-born Silver, 74, a member of Kibbutz Be’eri, had been listed as missing since her home in Kibbutz Be’eri was attacked last month.
Forensic examiners said today that they identified the remains of the peace activist, confirming she was killed during the October 7 massacres by Hamas-led terrorists.
“This is the outcome of war. Of not striving for peace, and this is what happens,” said her son, Yonatan Ziegen. “It’s very overwhelming but not completely surprising. It’s not sustainable to live in a state of war for so long and now it bursts. It bursts.”
A founding member of the Israeli-Palestinian Women Wage Peace movement and other peace organizations, Silver was previously thought to have been taken to the Gaza Strip.
“Early Saturday morning Vivian wrote to say that terrorists had infiltrated the kibbutz and entered her home,” said the Women Wage Peace website. “She hid behind a cupboard door. And since 11:07 – silence. A deafening silence. Vivian is missing. Probably abducted into Gaza.”
Silver texted her son, Yonatan Ziegen, to say her home had been attacked.
Millions of Israelis and Palestinians were also waking, some hearing explosions as well as sirens, grabbing their phones and starting to follow the news that Hamas had broken into Israel and was on the attack.
In Israeli communities along the border wire with Gaza, it soon became clear that this was an emergency like no other. Concrete shelters are never more than a short run away, because of years of living with the threat and reality of rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza. But when they started hearing shooting, and voices shouting in Arabic, it was different – closer and more deadly.
It took Yonatan no time to realize that his mother, Vivian Silver, was in trouble. He knows the border territory well, as he grew up there. His mother, now widowed, was still living in the family home in Kibbutz Be’eri, a small community right on the border wire with Gaza.
“She wrote me, ‘They’re inside the house, 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.’
“Then she writes, ‘I feel you.’ And then that was it, that’s the last message.”
Prior to the attack, Silver was a central activist of Women Wage Peace and a renowned peace activist in many other organizations, who had for years been transporting ailing civilian cancer patients in Gaza cross the border checkpoint to get treatment in Israeli hospitals. A lifelong peace activist, Silver would help Israel.
Women Wage Peace is the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel whose purpose is to promote a political agreement, involving women in the process.
Founded in the aftermath of the 50-day Gaza War/Operation Protective Edge of 2014, the movement has more than 45,000 Israeli members.
In the words of former US Ambassador Swanee Hunt, “Women tend to have a more holistic view of security, which embraces not just political sovereignty and military strength, but also economic security, education, and personal safety.”
The movement is non-partisan and does not support any one specific solution to the conflict. Instead, it empowers women from diverse communities to build trust across divides, leading in turn to a unified demand for diplomatic negotiation, with full representation of women, to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
WWP enables women to unite and take the future of this small place into our own hands –from the political left, center, and right, younger and older women, those from the center of the country and its periphery, religious and secular, Jewish, Arab, Druze and Bedouin.
Yonatan Zeigen’s mother, Vivian Silver, is likely among those kidnapped by Hamas from her Kibbutz. Zeigen, who believes his mother would continue to advocate for peace, says his “conviction for peace” has maybe even grown even stronger since October 7th. “If we had listened to people like my mother before, we might not [be] at this point now.”