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, according to Global Affairs Canada and multiple sources close to her family.
“It is with deep sadness that the Government of Canada has learned that Canadian-Israeli citizen Vivian Silver is deceased,” Global Affairs Canada said in a statement to Global News.
The agency said it is in contact with Silver’s family and providing assistance.
Five sources including a source close to the family and Israeli government also confirmed the 74-year-old Winnipeg native’s death to Global News.
The sources said her remains have been identified and that sh
is believed to have been killed in the initial assault by Hamas.
Messages left with Silver’s family were not responded to on Monday.
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.
“Our hearts are shattered,” Women Wage Peace said in a post on X, formally known as Twitter, calling Silver “our beloved friend.”
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.
Idit Shamir, Israel’s consul general in Toronto, called the news of Silver’s death “tragic” on X.
“Our hearts go out to her family and friends,” he wrote. “May her memory be a blessing.”
—With files from Jeff Semple, Mercedes Stephenson and Caryn Lieberman