Yonatan Zeigen says he hasn't heard from his mother, Vivian, since Hamas militants launched attacks in Israel
The son of a Jewish humanitarian originally from Winnipeg wants information regarding his mother's whereabouts and her well-being.
Yonatan Zeigen says he last spoke to his mother, Vivian, on Saturday. She was on the Be'eri kibbutz when it was attacked by Hamas militants and he fears she was taken 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."
Hamas militants from the Gaza Strip launched surprise attacks in Israel Saturday morning, crossing into Israeli towns and firing a barrage of rockets. Israel responded by launching airstrikes in Gaza.
Israeli media reports at least 900 people in Israel have been killed since Saturday's attacks, while Palestinian officials say more than 400 people have been killed in Gaza.
Palestinian militant groups also claim to be holding over 130 captives from the Israeli side.
Zeigen said he had been on the phone with his mother since the attacks began, but "realized very fast something unusual" was happening. He added his mother was hiding in a safe room in her home, but that the two decided to switch to messaging on WhatsApp when he heard gunshots outside of the window of the room which she was hiding.
"She wrote me that they're in the house and that was it," he said.
"She really has a great sense of humour, so we joked up until that point," he added. "We were joking and then we said 'OK it's time to stop joking' and just expressed love for each other and that was it."
WATCH | Son fears his mother was taken hostage by Hamas:
Son fears his mother was taken hostage by Hamas
Featured VideoYonatan Zeigen tells CBC's Adrienne Arsenault that he 'realized very fast that something unusual is happening,' when he was speaking to his mother, Vivian Silver, on Saturday. She was in Kibbutz Be'eri when it was attacked by Hamas, and he fears she was taken hostage.
Silver 'dedicated her life to peace work'
Zeigen explained that his mother "dedicated her life to peace work" and was the co-CEO of the Negev Institute for Strategies of Peace and Development, an organization with of a team of Arabs and Jews who work together to create a shared society, where Arabs and Jews live together while preserving their respective identity and culture, according to its website.
He said Silver is involved with an organization called Women Wage Peace, which describes itself as "the largest grassroots peace movement in Israel today." In addition, Silver also volunteers in another organization called Road to Recovery and drove Palestinians from Gaza to Israeli hospitals up until recently, he said.
Zeigen, who works as a social worker helping people experiencing homelessness in Tel Aviv, said his mother helped him develop the empathy and compassion needed for the job.
"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:
Woman feared taken hostage by Hamas 'dedicated her life to peace work,' son says
Featured Video'She's a woman of a small stature, but in spirit she's a giant,' Yonatan Zeigen tells CBC's Adrienne Arsenault about his mother, Vivian Silver. She was in Kibbutz Be'eri when it was attacked by Hamas, and Zeigen fears she was taken hostage.
Israel increased airstrikes on the Gaza Strip Monday, sealing the area off from food, fuel and other supplies in retaliation for the bloody incursion by Hamas militants, as the war's death toll rose to nearly 1,600 on both sides. Hamas escalated its action, pledging to kill captured Israelis if attacks targeted civilians without warnings.
Zeigen said he doesn't think his mother is missing, but is either dead in her house or being held in Gaza. He added while he wants to know his mother is alive and well, he also hopes efforts are made to get in contact with his mother so the family can tell her how much they love her.
"I hope the Canadians won't lose interest and be involved," he said. "Vivian's whole family is in Canada, we were just there this summer."
With files from The National's Adrienne Arsenault
Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca