GENEVA - A report commissioned by the United Nations says Palestinian terrorism is the inevitable result of Israeli occupation, an assertion that Israel rejected yesterday as inflammatory.
The report, posted on the UN Human Rights Council's website, says that while Palestinian terrorist acts are deplorable, "they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid, or occupation."
The report accuses the Jewish state of acts and policies consistent with all three.
As long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism, says the author, John Dugard, an independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a South African lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in the 1980s.
Dugard says in the report that "common sense . . . dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by Al Qaeda, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid, or military occupation."
The report calls for Israeli occupation to end, citing the country's checkpoints and roadblocks restricting Palestinian movement, house demolitions, and the "Judaization" of Jerusalem.
Until the occupation is ended, "peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue," the report says.
Israel's UN ambassador in Geneva rejected Dugard's analysis and questioned his objectivity.
"Dugard will better serve the cause of peace by ceasing to inflame the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, who have embarked on serious talks to solve this contentious situation," Itzhak Levanon said.
The 25-page report will be presented next month to the 47-nation rights council, which has been criticized - even by its founder, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - for spending most of its time reproaching Israel over alleged abuses.
Dugard was appointed in 2001 as an unpaid analyst to investigate only violations by the Israeli side, prompting Israel and the United States to dismiss his reports as one-sided.
Also yesterday, the Israeli military said no one is to blame for the Israeli military shelling of two houses in November 2006 in which 21 sleeping Palestinian civilians were killed.
The shelling in Gaza was "not intentional and was directly due to a rare and severe failure in the artillery fire control system," the military said in releasing the findings of an internal inquiry. There will be no military police inquiry, the statement said.
The shelling, which occurred during a large-scale Israeli ground operation in northern Gaza against Palestinian rocket squads, provoked the wrath of international groups and human rights organizations. Since then, Israel has rarely used artillery against Gaza.
The shells crashed into houses in the town of Beit Hanoun, about four miles from Israel, after midnight on Nov. 8, 2006, killing mostly women and children.
The explosions left holes in the buildings and sent panicked residents scurrying outside.
The military said it was aiming at rocket squads firing from northern Gaza.