A leading Palestinian academic released a study this week that says Israel's policy of targeted killings of Palestinians is only serving to inflame passions and ensure more violence.

Israel has been strongly criticized for what it calls "targeted" killings of Palestinians.

However, Professor Saleh Abdel Jawad of the Political Science Department at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank calls it the "Israeli assassination policy."

He says Israel is unique in that it became possibly the first democracy to declare openly such a policy and use it to gain political support at home. "Assassination became part of the Israeli politics, the internal Israeli politics," he says. "If you kill more Palestinians, you are more appreciated by the Israeli public and the political map. It is a really unique phenomenon. There are states in the world who practiced assassinations but these are like dictatorial states in Latin America. Here we have a democratic state with a democratic system, which institutionalized the practice, make it clear and even glorify it."

The Israeli Army says it targets Palestinians who are planning to murder Jews, although it admits that innocent civilians are sometimes mistakenly killed in such operations.

Professor Jawad, who has done a study of the policy, says in the past 11 months there have been more than 60 Palestinians "assassinated" by Israel. Of this number, Professor Jawad says 35 of the dead were on Israel's wanted list of suspected terrorists, and four were Palestinian political leaders.

He says that most of the others killed during the Israeli operations were people who posed no danger to the Jewish State. "The numbers of innocents surprised me a lot. Of these innocents, we have 11 (Palestinian) policemen who were, in order to satisfy Israel, were guarding a prison, as a matter of fact, where a single Hamas leader was imprisoned," Mr. Jawad said. "And the Israelis, instead of respecting their lives (of the Palestinian policemen), came and bombarded the prison with 1,000 pound missiles that killed 11 of them and injured at least another 20 or 30 people. We have woman bystanders or children killed."

Professor Jawad says that while Israel's policy is meant to improve the security of its citizens, it is, he says, having the opposite effect. He says each time a Palestinian is assassinated, it is encouraging others to go and launch more attacks against Israel.

Professor Jawad says that the only way to stop the conflict is to improve the economic conditions of the Palestinians and to uphold their right to live freely in a future independent state.