The Israeli army has ruled that no one is to blame for the 2006 shelling of homes in the Gaza Strip that killed at least 19 civilians.

The military announced Tuesday that its investigation into the deadly incident found the shelling was not intentional and resulted from a rare failure of the firing system.

The civilians were killed in November 2006, when Israeli shells slammed into homes in the town of Beit Hanun. The incident drew worldwide condemnation.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israeli forces were responding to militants' rocket attacks in the area.

In related news, the Israeli military said its troops shot dead a Palestinian between the Gaza Strip and Israel Tuesday.

An army spokeswoman said the Palestinian had been trying to plant explosives near the Kissufim crossing. But Palestinian medical officials said the victim was a farmer.

Mr. Olmert said Tuesday that Israel has the "desire" to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians this year, but that it may not be able to meet that goal.

Speaking in Tokyo, Mr. Olmert said his government will make every effort to settle its long-standing differences with the Palestinians, including defining a Palestinian state.

Mr. Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas restarted peace talks late last year at a U.S.-led summit.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.