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Mourners gather in Israel to honor memory of longtime peace activist Vivian Silver

Hundreds of mourners gather for the funeral service of Canadian Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver on Thursday in Kibbutz Gezer, Israel.
Maya Levin for NPR
Hundreds of mourners gather for the funeral service of Canadian Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver on Thursday in Kibbutz Gezer, Israel.

KIBBUTZ GEZER, Israel — Hundreds of friends and fellow activists gathered Thursday for a service honoring the memory of Vivian Silver, a Canadian Israeli peace activist.

Silver was declared dead this week and was identified by her remains found at her home in Kibbutz Be'eri, Israel. It was thought she might have been held hostage in Gaza following the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7.

Vivian Silver's family listens to eulogies during a service on Thursday. Silver, who had been missing and presumed to be a hostage since Hamas' attacks on Oct. 7, was confirmed dead this week after her DNA was found in the ashes of her home.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
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Maya Levin for NPR
Vivian Silver's family listens to eulogies during a service on Thursday. Silver, who had been missing and presumed to be a hostage since Hamas' attacks on Oct. 7, was confirmed dead this week after her DNA was found in the ashes of her home.

Silver, 74, spent her life pursuing peace in the region, her son, Yonatan Zeigen, told NPR in October. After the war in Gaza in 2014, Silver co-founded Women Wage Peace, which lobbies for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict and brings together women from both Israeli and Palestinian societies. She also served on the board of directors of B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization.

Silver regularly volunteered for the organization Road to Recovery, which provided transportation for sick Palestinians from Gaza to Israel for medical treatment.

A demonstrator holds a poster showing Israeli Canadian Vivian Silver, who was missing and was presumed to be held by Palestinian militants since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, during a protest for her release outside the president's residence in Jerusalem on Oct. 29.
Ahmad Gharabli / AFP via Getty Images
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AFP via Getty Images
A demonstrator holds a poster showing Israeli Canadian Vivian Silver, who was missing and was presumed to be held by Palestinian militants since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack, during a protest for her release outside the president's residence in Jerusalem on Oct. 29.

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants killed an estimated 1,200 people and kidnapped another 240 in Israeli towns, according to Israeli officials. To date, more than 11,000 people have been killed by Israel's military response, according to Gaza's Ministry of Health.

"She believed in the end of this cursed conflict and that people in Gaza and in the Gaza envelope inside of Israel deserved to live in peace," Ghadir Hani, a friend and fellow peace activist, said at the service.

The service for Silver concluded with an impromptu medley of peace songs sung by her fellow Women Wage Peace members.

Members of the Women Wage Peace organization sing together as hundreds of mourners gather for the funeral service Thursday.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
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Maya Levin for NPR
Members of the Women Wage Peace organization sing together as hundreds of mourners gather for the funeral service Thursday.
Vivian Silver's son, Chen Zeigen, delivers a eulogy about his mother during the funeral service Thursday.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
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Maya Levin for NPR
Vivian Silver's son, Chen Zeigen, delivers a eulogy about his mother during the funeral service Thursday.
Mourners listen to eulogies for Vivian Silver during her funeral service Thursday.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
/
Maya Levin for NPR
Mourners listen to eulogies for Vivian Silver during her funeral service Thursday.
A mourner reacts during Vivian's funeral service Thursday.
/ Maya Levin for NPR
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Maya Levin for NPR
A mourner reacts during Vivian's funeral service Thursday.

Maya Levinis an independent photographer based in Tel Aviv.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Maya Levin