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Church Attacker Says He Wanted to Destroy Idol Worship Symbols

May 24, 1995

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) _ An Israeli soldier who sprayed a Roman Catholic church with automatic weapons fire told a court today he did it because Jews must ``destroy symbols of idol worship.″

A Tel Aviv magistrate’s judge ordered Cpl. Haniel Koren, 21, to undergo psychiatric tests.

On Monday, Koren opened fire in St. Anthony’s Church in the ancient port of Jaffa, now part of Tel Aviv. No one was hurt, but the shooting set off two days of street protests by Arab residents of the mixed Arab-Jewish neighborhood.

``I was acting according to the Torah, which instructs us to destroy symbols of idol worship,″ Koren said today, referring to the Jewish scriptures.

Police described Koren, a cook at an army base, as a bright but troubled young man.

His mother, a psychiatric nurse, apologized.

``This isn’t the way I brought up my son. ... I appeal to the entire Christian community on my behalf, on behalf of my son Haniel, my children and his father. We apologize for the injustice and unpleasantness caused them,″ the woman, whose name wasn’t given, said on Israel radio.

Koren also confessed to involvement in a fire at the Gethsemane Church in Jerusalem last week, police said.

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