The son of an Israeli Canadian woman suspected of being held hostage in Gaza has urged the Israeli government to try to secure her release through negotiations.
Vivian Silver is a long-time peace activist with ties to Australia.
“I don’t think they took the people and killed them,” said his son, Yonatan Zeigen. 7:30 a.m..
“They could have killed them there. They took them as leverage and to make deals. So it would be a shame if we couldn’t comply because of aggressive politics. I just want them to come back alive. “
Ms Silver regularly worked as a volunteer driver for a project funded by an Australian charity, Project Rozana, which collects seriously ill Palestinian children and takes them to hospitals in Israel for treatment.
The charity is run by his friend, Melbourne businessman Ron Finkel. He has known Mrs. Silver for 52 years.
“She is a social activist and is dedicated to the cause of peace. It’s part of her DNA,” Mr. Finkel said.
Ms. Silver has not been seen since Saturday morning, after Hamas terrorists entered the small rural community of Kibbutz Beeri, just a few kilometers from Gaza.
CCTV footage shows gunmen entering the community just before 6am, after killing the occupants of a car at the gates.
Around 7 a.m., she spoke to Mr. Zeigen in Tel Aviv from a secure room in his home.
“We stayed in touch until I heard on the phone numerous gunshots outside a window where she was hiding in a secure room,” Mr Zeigen said.
“So we decided to stop talking on the phone so they wouldn’t hear it.
“And we corresponded via WhatsApp until she wrote to me that they were inside the house. And then the communication stopped around 11 o’clock on Saturday morning.”
“An entire community is destroyed”
Terrorists massacred more than 100 people inside Kibbutz Beeri.
“The whole community is destroyed,” said Mr. Zeigen, who grew up in this small community.
“A lot of people were killed, a lot of people kidnapped and a lot of people torn apart. The survivors are also torn apart,” he said.
Among those killed in Beeri were young children and an Australian-born woman, Galit Carbone.
Cellphone footage shows a group of hostages walking past Beeri. The Washington Post reports that these hostages were killed shortly after, their bodies left on the road.
But there’s no sign of Mrs. Silver.
“It has become clear that Vivian was most likely kidnapped and taken hostage in Gaza,” Mr. Finkel said.
Mr. Zeigen claims to have had no confirmation of the kidnapping.
“That (she was kidnapped) is the indication that we are receiving. It is not officially confirmed. No one from the authorities has spoken to me. But from all the information… that is our indication, and I I hope this is true because the alternative is worse.”
Mr. Finkel says Ms. Silver worked in Gaza before 2006, when Hamas seized the territory of more than 2 million people.
“Vivian would go to Gaza and work with the Gazans,” Mr. Finkel said.
“This is a very painful issue right now for us, and we are just praying and hoping that a way forward will be found for her and all the other hostages in Gaza.”
Hamas said it would execute hostages in retaliation for the deaths of Gazans in airstrikes.
“I’m scared,” Mr. Zeigen said. “This is why I call on the Israeli government to negotiate.”
Israel has cut off electricity, fuel and food supplies to Gaza.
Mr Finkel condemned the terrorist attacks but said Ms Silver would be distressed by the civilian suffering that followed.
“Vivian would be very concerned if innocent people in Gaza were deliberately overtaken… doing things that would inevitably prevent the availability of vital electricity, water and food to the general population,” he said .
Mr. Zeigen says he is now focused on finding his mother.