JERUSALEM (JTA) — A crowd estimated at 30,000 attended the funeral for Max Steinberg, an American lone soldier who was killed in Gaza.
The service for Steinberg, 24, a southern California native who was killed Sunday in a Hamas attack on his armored personnel carrier, was held Wednesday morning at the Har Herzl military cemetery.
Steinberg’s parents and siblings traveled to Israel for the funeral. His mother, Evie, told Israel’s Channel 2 upon her arrival at Ben Gurion Airport that her son was “a hero.”
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said in a Facebook post later Wednesday that the number of mourners “was an amazing show of support and love, which gave real comfort to his wonderful family.” Shapiro had spoken at the funeral.
Steinberg was riding in the armored vehicle with six other members of the Golani Brigade when it was attacked by Hamas explosives. He was a sharpshooter in the elite brigade who had enlisted in the army several months after visiting Israel for the first time on a Birthright trip.
On Sunday night, family, friends and community members gathered for an impromptu memorial service at a park near the Steinbergs’ home in the San Fernando Valley.
Funerals for two other lone soldiers killed in the same attack were held this week.
Jordan Bensemhoun, 22, was buried in Ashkelon’s military cemetery on Tuesday night. Some 6,000 mourners, mostly from the large French-Israeli community, attended the service for the 22-year-old Lyon native despite warnings against large gatherings in the southern city, which is under frequent rocket fire from Gaza.
On Monday night, some 20,000 mourners attended the service for Sean Carmeli, 21, at the Sde Yehoshua military cemetery in Haifa. Social media sites had called on Israelis to attend the funeral for the Texas native, as Carmeli did not have much family in Israel.
Maccabi Haifa, Carmeli’s favorite soccer team, asked its fans on Facebook to “accompany him on his final road and represent us as one family.”