Photo Credit: Getty
Max Steinberg and Nissim Sean Carmeli grew up in America. But they both developed a passion for Israel.
The young men's love of Israel ultimately led them to join the Israel Defense Forces, and they ended up fighting for the Jewish state in the Gaza Strip this week.
On Sunday, Steinberg, 24, and Carmeli, 21, were killed there. They were among 13 Israeli soldiers and 65 Palestinians killed Sunday during the first major ground battle in two weeks of fighting between Israel and Hamas.
Steinberg, whose family lives in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, was a sharpshooter for the Golani Brigade, his father, Stuart Steinberg, told The Associated Press on Sunday.
Earlier Sunday, the IDF said in a statement that Carmeli, 21, a sergeant, was killed in combat in the Gaza Strip. Carmeli was from South Padre Island, Texas, said Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Maya Kadosh. She said Carmeli moved to Israel four years ago and added that the consulate helped his family get a flight there Sunday.
Rabbi Asher Hecht of Chabad of the Rio Grande Valley, who is a longtime family friend, said Carmeli joined the Israeli army after finishing high school in Israel and was in the Golani Brigade. Carmeli was from Ra'anana, Israel, according to the IDF statement.
"He had great energy, yet had a kind and gentle soul," Hecht said. "It's been a very tough day for us," he added. "We lost a gem."
Read more on the KFI News Blog