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2 Americans among dozens killed in fighting in Gaza strip Sunday


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.

2 Americans Fighting For Israel Killed In Gaza

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."

Carmeli was the youngest of three and has two sisters who currently live in Israel. He was "loved by his parents infinitely," Hecht said.

Steinberg was living in Beersheba, Israel. He attended Pierce College and El Camino Real High School in Southern California.

He visited Israel for the first time on a Birthright Israel trip with his younger brother and sister in June 2012, his father said. When he returned, he made an announcement to his parents that he was planning to return and join the IDF, Steinberg said. He made good on that promise less than six months later, making the move in December.

"He went back," Steinberg said. "He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel. He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing."

On Sunday morning, the Steinbergs were visited by representatives from the Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles. They broke the news of Max Steinberg's death.

Stuart Steinberg last spoke to his son at 4 a.m. Saturday California time, hours before his death. Max Steinberg called his father to tell him that his group had been injured when two of their tanks collided. They had to return to Israel for treatment at the hospital. Some soldiers had broken bones, and Max Steinberg had sprained his back, his father said.

"He called me up at 4 a.m. that morning and said he'd be returning to Gaza, back to combat, to be with his friends," Steinberg said.

Steinberg said the family is leaving on Monday for Israel, where their son will be buried. On Max Steinberg's Facebook page, hundreds of people liked a profile photo that appeared to be a selfie of him in uniform, armed, with his helmet on. Dozens gave their condolences.

Jay Sanderson, who heads The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, said in an email message to the community that "our thoughts are with his family and our community is committed to support them in any way they need - and to honor Max's memory."

The Jewish Federations of North America said in a statement that its "deepest sympathies" were with the families of 18 Israeli soldiers killed over the last two days. "Along with all of Israel, and the entire Jewish People, we mourn their loss as if they were our own," the statement said.

On Sunday night, the U.S. State Department confirmed the deaths of Steinberg and Carmeli.

"We can confirm the deaths of U.S. citizens Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli in Gaza. Out of respect for those affected by this, we have nothing further at this time," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

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Jay July 21 2014 at 4:33 AM

When you enlist and fight for a non American country the law says that you give up your American citizenship in favor for the country you decide to fight for. So these two were not American anymore and they knew it. I find it interesting the level of deception going on by the news organizations by calling them "Americans" which they have not been for some time like we are supposed to go help Israel. This is not our war. We need to stop paying for it and butt out for once

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37 replies
sparrca July 21 2014 at 3:58 AM

Both died as soldiers in battle, fighting for
the country that they loved, Israel.....
May they rest in peace......

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2 replies
Denny sparrca July 21 2014 at 9:24 AM

May they burn in hell!

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4 replies
gogayu sparrca July 21 2014 at 9:53 AM

and would this be the same if a Palestinian American went to the middle east and fought against Israel? Hmm, guess not.
The headline would read: Two American Jihadists die in battle against Israel!
Decide if you are an American first or a Jew First. A jew more motivated to fight for a foriegn nation when his own country is at war or many fronts.... you pick the name he/she deserves.

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libsfault July 21 2014 at 5:13 AM

Thanks for trying to rid the world of terrorist.......

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4 replies
Dennis Anderson July 21 2014 at 7:30 AM

They were Americans for those who think not. Serving in a foreign army, or swearing allegiance to a foreign government used to be automatic grounds for losing U.S. citizenship. But a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 made it all but impossible for someone to lose U.S. citizenship unless he or she wants to give it up.

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1 reply
lowrodiay65 Dennis Anderson July 21 2014 at 7:34 AM

The case you are referring to was brought by a jew who had moved to israel and wanted his american citizenship back. It wasn't because he served in the army it was because he voted in an israeli election that caused his loss of citizenship.

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1 reply
Dennis Anderson lowrodiay65 July 21 2014 at 7:43 AM

So,they are still Americans by law. Move on

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chuck July 21 2014 at 5:43 AM

2 real americans. my prayers are with you. you will be in the grace of god forever.

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7 replies
Jimmy July 21 2014 at 7:05 AM

find it interesting, why were they not in the military in this country?? Yet, their willing to go else where to fight. Not my business, it's theirs. Just asking.

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2 replies
pscottparker10231955 Jimmy July 21 2014 at 12:25 PM

Who knows? Maybe they felt a special kinship with Jews who stand right next to evil (i.e., Mohammed followers) who are poised to kill them all and finish what Hitler started. May God have mercy on their souls. They were brave young men who faced down evil.

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msharvie Jimmy July 21 2014 at 12:31 PM

Yep, you're right..........not your business.

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1 reply
xorapoan msharvie July 21 2014 at 1:56 PM

Not yours either right..

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sdwood July 21 2014 at 4:16 AM

Sorry to hear of their deaths, but, if they stayed home they would still be alive. No good can come from the fighting in the middle east except more death.

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7 replies
marianicole62 July 21 2014 at 9:16 AM

I am not Jewish myself, but am 100% behind these poor folks who have been tortured throughout history in one way or another. May both of these young men rest in peace and their families proud of thier bravery. My prayers are with the Israel soldiers who have to combat these pests throughout the Middle East.

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1 reply
gogayu marianicole62 July 21 2014 at 11:32 AM

Actually these "pests" lived on this land for centuries.
Take millions of Europeans and put them in the middle of hundreds of millions tthat they have nothing in common with and expect them to get along.
Just like the Native Americans are a pest now. Lazy, Boozers, Don't want to work but want, want, want....

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bloodcarnage July 21 2014 at 6:07 AM

They were not Americans. They were enlisted into a foreign national military. They gave up their right to be called American as soon as they signed the paper.

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3 replies
redroad9 July 21 2014 at 1:02 PM

Would an American who was the son of one of the Sailors or Marines killed or wounded on the USS Liberty went over and fought against the country who tried to kill brave Americans who were serving there country. Would they get the same respect so many want to give to these two young men?

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