South Padre Island resident killed in Gaza amid conflict in Middle East

Sean Carmeli // via Sean Carmeli Facebook page

An American citizen was killed in Gaza amid conflict in the Middle East.

Sean Carmeli, 21, of South Padre Island was killed in battle, the Israeli Consulate confirmed to Action 4 News.

Carmeli was volunteering with the Israeli Defense Force, and "he (chose) to go and fight... for freedom and democracy," Deputy Consul General Maya Kadosh said.

The Israeli Consulate said the 21-year-old's parents left South Padre Island on a plane to Israel today to make funeral arrangements.

He died on Sunday, July 20th on the Gaza Strip while part of the Israeli Defense Force.

"Unfortunately, we had 17 soldiers killed. 13 were killed today. One of them is Sean Carmeli from South Padre, Texas," Kadosh said. "He died in a battle to protect his people, to protect kids and families in Israel after rocket threats. He was a hero."

Carmeli is a dual citizen of both the US and Israel, the Israeli consulate confirms.

His parents lived on South Padre Island, and Carmeli has two sisters living in Israel.

He was born in the US, the consulate told Action 4 News.

The 21-year-old US-Israeli citizen went to school in Brownsville before moving to Israel.

He attended St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville, according to his Facebook page.

"Your unending enthusiasm for life is something that I will never forget", his friend wrote on his Facebook page. "You carried with you a natural charm that will be sorely missed, and wore a permanent smile that should not have been able to fit your face."

Carmeli was killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. "To Sean's family and friends, he served and died as a hero defending Israel. They have a nation's deepest condolences," Kadosh said in a prepared statement.

"Israel has been under attack from the Hamas," Kadosh said. "There have been rockets fired at about 70 percent of the Israel population."

Israel has attempted to achieve cease fire, including on Sunday.

"Israel, which is the biggest American ally, is trying to defend itself," Kadosh said in a phone interview.

She adds some Israeli citizens have been spending their summer sitting in bomb shelters.

"Israel is doing everything in its power to protect its population," the Deputy Consul General said.

Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to go to Egypt on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Gaza.