Hero: 20,000 Israelis Mourn Fallen Texan in Haifa, Israel
20,000 "people from all walks of life" attended the funeral of "Lone Soldier" and First Sergeant Nissim Sean Carmeli on Sunday evening in Haifa, Israel. Sean, 21, was a Texas native who was serving in the front lines of Israel's Defense Forces (IDF) when he was struck and killed by enemy fire from Hamas on Sunday.
Sean, who split his time between South Padre Island, Texas (where his parents live) and Ra'anana, Israel was a huge fan of the Maccabi Haifa soccer team, according to the Times of Israel. The team, which found out about their fan's loyalty, posted an image of Sean to their nearly 70,000-strong following on their Facebook page, requesting their presence at his funeral.
The team reportedly even provided two buses to take attendees too and from Sean's funeral, which took place at 11 pm. The young man was buried in Haifa's Neve David cemetery with an overwhelming outpouring of support, notes the Times.
A copy of the post by Maccabi Haifa can be found by clicking here.
Governor Rick Perry issued a powerful, heartfelt message on behalf of all Texans:
"On behalf of all Texans, I'd like to express to the Carmeli family our deepest condolences on the loss of Sean, who died valiantly fighting terrorism in defense of Israel. Like many other ‘Lone Soldiers,’ Sean was American, but also a part of the extended Israeli family, and a passionate believer in Israel's inherent right to defend itself against terrorist aggression. Anita and I will keep his family in our thoughts and prayers."
Funeral attendee Ahuva Berger, noted the sheer volume and diversity of those in attendance to honor Sean's memory on Sunday. "It was really impressive to see," Berger conveyed to the Times. "There were people from all walks of life...religious, secular, Chabad, a Ra'anana Crew, alot of people from Haifa. Soldiers from the navy, air force and infantries."
California native Max Steinberg was also killed on Sunday while serving alongside Sean. The American-born men were two of 13 soldiers who died battling terror on Sunday. Sean was told he did not have to fight in the Brigade's front lines due to a foot injury he had suffered. However, he insisted on fighting alongside his squad, note the Times.
Both men were fighting in Israel's Golani Brigade. The unit is known to be one of the IDF's foremost elite combat units. It is tasked with taking on some of Israel's most difficult missions.
Joel B. Pollak contributed to this report.