Two Americans who were Israel Defense Force soldiers were killed on July 20 in combat in the Gaza Strip, CBS News reports.
The two soldiers have been identified as 24-year-old Max Steinberg, a Golani brigade sharpshooter, and 21-year-old Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli.
Steinberg’s family is from the San Fernando Valley in California, according to the Associated Press, and Carmeli is from South Padre, Texas. Carmeli’s parents are both Israeli and he had moved to Israel four years ago and lived in Ra’ani, Israel.
Co-Director of Chabad in the Rio Grande Rabbi Asher Hecht told The Times of Israel that he had met Carmeli in 2006 and described him as someone who set a “kind example to everyone else.”
“In my mind, he was a hero,” Hecht told CBS News. “He wanted to be there for the Jewish people in their time of need.”
Steinberg first went to Israel as part of a Birthright Israel trip in June 2012, according to Fox News. When he returned, Steinberg told his parents that he was going to go back to Israel to join the IDF, and he joined them less than six months later and lived in Beersheba.
“He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel,” Stuart Steinberg, the father of Max Steinberg, told Fox News. “He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing.”
Stuart Steinberg last spoke to his son at 4 a.m. California time on July 19. He learned that his son had sprained his back when two IDF tanks collided, and that Max Steinberg was returning to combat the next day.
Back in February, Steinberg had used social media to help raise money for the troops because they faced “unforgivable” shortages, according to The Times of Israel.
“We could really use the help now more than ever,” Steinberg wrote. “I know things aren’t easy back home in the states, but if you or someone you know can help we would be beyond grateful.”
Carmeli and Steinberg were among 13 IDF soldiers killed on July 20. Seven were killed by an anti-tank mine, two died from a gunfire exchanged with Hamas, and three more were killed from an anti-tank missile hitting a building.
IDF Chief of Staff Gen. Benny Gantz told The Times of Israel that the IDF soldiers were doing “fantastic work.”
“I’m proud of them,” Gantz said. “All of Israel should be proud of them.”