The parents of US-born IDF soldier Max Steinberg have said they feel overwhelmed at the outpouring of support and condolences from Israelis across the country, after their son fell in battle in the Gaza Strip.
Despite being a "lone soldier" (the term given for soldiers without close family in Israel), some 30,000 people turned out for Max's funeral on Wednesday, after public calls brought throngs of people to pay their last respects to a Jewish boy from LA who sacrificed his life for the country.
Speaking to Arutz Sheva at Jerusalem's Crowne Plaza Hotel, where the family are observing the seven-day shiva mourning period, Max's mother expressed gratitude for "all the love" the family had received from complete strangers.
"I cannot believe that all of these people are here for our son, and all the people that are here are giving us strength to get through this horrible time for our family," she said.
She recalled how her son had been inspired to join the IDF after visiting the grave of another fallen lone soldier from America: Michael Levin, who died fighting with the IDF's Paratrooper Brigade during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
Max's father told how the Israeli people had "done everything they can to help us live through this very trying time."
Addressing the family's decision to bury Max in Israel - and not in LA as originally planned - he said they felt their decision had been validated after visiting Israel.
"...Once we got here and once we've been embraced by so many wonderful people.. and the beauty of the country and what it all stands for, there is no other decision."