2 Americans fighting for Israel killed in Gaza

The State Department has confirmed two Americans are among the casualties in the bloodiest day of fighting in Israel's current offensive against Hamas. 

The IDF said on its blog 21-year-old Texas native Nissim Sean Carmeli was killed in combat. 

His rabbi told The Algemeiner: “[Carmeli] was enthusiastic to go in and to fight for the Jewish people.”

Twenty-four year old Max Steinberg of California was the other IDF-enlisted American killed in combat. His father told CBS "He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel … He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was.”

RELATED: Scores dead in first major ground battle in Gaza

Carmeli and Steinberg were among the 13 Israeli soldiers killed Sunday. So far, 20 Israelis have died in the two-week offensive. On the Palestinian side, the casualties are much higher — 65 died Sunday, bringing the total death toll in recent weeks to more than 500. (Via ITN

The weekend’s fatalities come amid renewed calls for a cease-fire. Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Cairo Monday to push for a truce. (Via U.S. Department of State

Egypt has already offered up a cease-fire which Hamas rejected — in part, because the terms did not include the release of prisoners arrested in the West Bank.  

Which makes Hamas’ latest claim — in this video — that it captured an IDF soldier all the more significant. Israel denies the group is holding any Israelis, but if Hamas did manage to capture one, it could be a game changer. (Via Ezz Al-Din Al Qassam Brigades via YouTube / Mostafa Jour)

Back in 2006, Hamas-linked militants captured an Israeli soldier. Gilad Shalit was held for five years before Israel agreed to hand over 1,000 jailed Palestinians in exchange for his release. (Via Israel Defense Forces / CC BY NC 2.0)

Meanwhile, the United Nations is also calling for an immediate end to the fighting. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the IDF for failing to protect civilians, in what he described as an “atrocious action" on Israel's part.

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