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Soldier Opens Fire in Jaffa Church

An Israeli soldier opened fire in a church courtyard Monday in Jaffa, resulting in extensive damage, but no injuries.

Israel has asked its Christian Arab minority for “forgiveness, pardon and absolution” for the soldier’s actions.

The soldier entered the courtyard on Yefet Street and began firing wildly from his M-16 assault rifle and throwing concussions grenades, according to media reports.

A nun and other women who were inside the Franciscan church fled. The soldier, Koren Haniel, 21, then barricaded himself inside the church, it was reported.

Large numbers of security forces arrived at the site, and Haniel was taken into custody. His motive was not immediately known. But when onlookers gathered outside the church, clashes between police and angry Arab residents broke out. One police officer was hurt and a police car was set on fire, a police spokesman said.

Jaffa youths threw rocks at police late Tuesday as hundreds of local residents attended a vigil near the church. Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, has a population of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

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