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Canadian peace advocate Vivian Silver confirmed killed in Hamas attack – BBC News

By Jake Lapham

Vivian Silver helped Gaza residents to obtain medical treatment in Israel

An Israeli-Canadian peace advocate, feared to have been taken hostage in Gaza, has been confirmed killed.

Vivian Silver, 74, lived close to Israel’s border with Gaza in kibbutz Be’eri – which was attacked by Hamas during the 7 October attacks.

Remains had been found earlier at her house, but they were only formally identified as hers five weeks later.

Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly described Ms Silver as a “lifelong advocate for peace”.

“Canada mourns her loss,” she wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Ms Silver, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was one of Israel’s best known advocates for peace with the Palestinians. Her movement, Women Wage Peace, was established to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to reach a peace agreement to end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Her son Yonatan Zeigen told the BBC she stayed busy in her retirement, continuing her life’s work as an activist, holding meetings just days before the Hamas attacks.

Her family had believed she had been kidnapped by Hamas and held in Gaza for the past five weeks.

Speaking to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last week, Mr Zeigen said that while they knew Ms Silver’s house had been burned to the ground during Hamas’s attack, and that a body had been found at that time, there was “no evidence there of a struggle or bullets”, leading the family to believe she had been kidnapped.

In an interview with the BBC in the days after the attack, Mr Zeigen recounted his final communications with her as she hid in a cupboard while armed men were moving through the kibbutz.

He said his mother told him that she loved him, and said “‘they’re inside the house, it’s time to stop joking and say goodbye.'”

“I wrote back that ‘I love you, Mum. I have no words, I’m with you,'” he said.

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

Asked what his mother would have said about everything that has happened, Mr Yonatan said: “That this is the outcome of war. Of not striving for peace, and this is what happens.”

“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.”

More than 100 members of Ms Silver’s kibbutz were killed in the attack.

There have been growing calls for a humanitarian pause to allow aid into Gaza, and to help get out some of the 240 hostages taken by Hamas.

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu has said all hostages must be released before any temporary truce can be agreed.

Israel began striking Gaza after Hamas’s surprise attacks, in which 1,200 people were killed. The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since.

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