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(CNN) – Two dual Israeli-American citizens were killed Sunday by Hamas: California native Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli, from South Padre Island, Texas, the U.S. State Department said.
Sean was a typical kid, who did well in school, and always had a smile on his face, said Rabbi Asher Hecht, a family friend
"He was very proud of his Jewish identity. He was very proud to fight in the IDF, the Israel Defense Force," Hecht said.
The rabbi described Sean as a "gentle soul," saying the he was "not your typical warrior."
"He wanted to do good, and that was his inspiration as a soldier. And we look at him today as a hero," said Hecht.
There is division among the Israeli public, regarding the loss of lives in military operations. But Hecht supports the current operation in Gaza.
"As a Jewish nation, we are united against people that want to annihilate us," he said.
"It is very sad that people have to die, but the choice is in the hands of these evil people," he said.
As the bloodshed continued Monday on both sides of the Gaza battle, the United States announced a push for the hostilities to end immediately. And Hamas, speaking to CNN, indicated that cease-fire talks may already be progressing.