The son of a Jewish philanthropist, who comes from Winnipeg originally, is seeking information about his mother’s current location and her state of being.
Yonatan Zeigen reports that his mother, Vivian, was last contacted by him on Saturday. At the time, she was located at the Be’eri kibbutz, which unfortunately came under attack by Hamas militants. Yonatan is concerned that his mother might have been captured and held hostage.
“Vivian Silver is my mother and … she’s a woman of small stature, but in spirit she’s a giant,” he said from Tel Aviv in an interview with The National’s Adrienne Arsenault.
“She dedicated her life to peace work. She came to Israel 50 years ago and just after the [Yom Kippur War], which is kind of ironic, and since then she was just involved in activities to end the occupation and to solve the conflict.”
On Saturday morning, Hamas militants made unexpected assaults on Israel by entering Israeli towns and launching a series of rocket attacks. In response, Israel retaliated by conducting airstrikes in Gaza.
Israeli media has stated that the number of casualties in Israel has reached at least 900 individuals since the attacks that took place on Saturday. On the other hand, Palestinian officials have reported that over 400 people in Gaza have lost their lives.
Palestinian militant groups also claim to be holding over 130 captives from the Israeli side.
Zeigen stated that he had been conversing with his mother over the phone when the attacks commenced, but quickly became aware of something out of the ordinary. He further mentioned that his mother had sought refuge in a secure room within their home. However, upon hearing gunshots near the room’s window, they opted to switch to communicating through WhatsApp.
He mentioned that she informed him they are in the house and that was the extent of it.
“She possesses an exceptional sense of humor, and we continued to exchange jokes until that moment,” he remarked. “We were playfully bantering, and then we mutually agreed to cease the jesting and openly conveyed our love for one another, bringing the conversation to an end.”
Son expresses concern that his mother may have been kidnapped by Hamas.
Silver devoted her entire life to the pursuit of peace.
According to Zeigen, his mother was deeply committed to promoting peace and served as the co-CEO of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development. This organization brings together Arabs and Jews who collaborate to establish a harmonious society where both groups can coexist while maintaining their unique identities and cultures, as stated on their website.
According to him, Silver is associated with Women Wage Peace, an organization that claims to be “the most significant peace movement initiated by women in Israel.” Additionally, he mentioned that Silver has been volunteering for Road to Recovery, an organization that provides transportation for Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals, although this activity has stopped recently.
Zeigen, employed as a social worker aiding individuals facing homelessness in Tel Aviv, expressed gratitude towards his mother for instilling the essential qualities of empathy and compassion required for this profession.
“That’s the woman she is,” he said. “It’s hard to speak in past tense or in present tense because we don’t really know.”
WATCH | Woman feared taken hostage by Hamas ‘dedicated her life to peace work,’ son says:
On Monday, Israel intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, imposing a blockade that prevented the delivery of essential resources such as food and fuel. This was in response to the violent invasion carried out by Hamas militants. The death toll from the ongoing conflict has reached almost 1,600 on both sides. In retaliation, Hamas has vowed to execute any Israelis they capture if attacks continue to harm innocent civilians without prior notice.
Zeigen expressed doubt regarding his mother’s whereabouts, suggesting she may either be deceased in her residence or being detained in Gaza. While he desires confirmation of her safety, he also wishes for attempts to be made to establish communication with her, allowing the family to convey their deep affection for her.
“I hope that Canadians will remain engaged and not lose interest,” he stated. “Vivian’s entire family resides in Canada, and we recently visited them during the summer.”