The Associated Press reports this morning on the story of two Americans, 24-year-old Max Steinberg of California and 21-year-old Nissim Sean Carmeli of Texas, who were killed on Sunday in Gaza while fighting with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Carmeli had lived in Israel for four years and had reportedly finished high school there before joining the military. Steinberg, a 2008 graduate of El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, California (just down the road from the celebrity hotspot Calabasas), had never been to the country before 2012. He first visited through the Birthright program that funds free 10-day trips to Israel for young Jewish people living abroad:
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."
At least 425 Palestinians and 20 Israelis have been killed so far during the explosion of violence that has followed the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank.