A rocket attack launched by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip wounded two people in Israel Tuesday as the Middle East’s lone Jewish state signed an agreement to normalize relations with two of its Arab neighbors at the White House. The attack was apparently coordinated to coincide with the signing of the agreement.
According to an Associated Press report, the Israeli military said two rockets were fired from Gaza and one was intercepted by air defenses. Israeli emergency services treated two people for minor injuries from broken glass.
Earlier, Israeli Defense Forces issued an alert for rocket sirens sounding in Ashdod and Ashkelon, cities in the southern region of Israel near the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, ruled by the Islamic terrorist group Hamas, are opposed to the Israeli agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations without forcing Israel to cede its sovereignty over territory the Palestinians claim as their own. Historically, most Arab nations have sided with the Palestinians in this conflict, but the Trump administration managed to broker agreements that put aside the issue for now. The Palestinians consider this a betrayal.
The agreement signed at the White House, known as the “Abraham Accords” to honor the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, declares peace and formally normalizes diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain.
While the text of the agreement has not been made public, Israeli officials reportedly told The Jerusalem Post it will not go into effect until the Israeli cabinet ratifies the agreement and UAE officials reportedly said there will be references to a two-state solution.
President Trump declared the agreement “the dawn of a new Middle East” in a speech delivered at the signing ceremony.
“We’re here this afternoon to change the course of history. After decades of division and conflict, we mark the dawn of a new Middle East,” Trump said.
“Thanks to the great courage of the leaders of these three countries, we take a major stride toward a future in which people of all faiths and backgrounds live together in peace and prosperity,” he said.
The president said the accord “will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive peace across the entire region.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this moment marked a “pivot of history” and a “new dawn of peace,” praising President Trump for his work on the agreement.
“To all of Israel’s friends in the Middle East, those who are with us today and those who will join us tomorrow, I say, ‘As-salamu alaykum.’ Peace unto thee. Shalom,” Netanyahu said.
“The blessings of peace that we make today will be enormous,” he continued, “first because this peace will eventually expand to include other Arab states, and ultimately, it can end the Arab-Israel conflict once and for all.”
UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan added more optimistic remarks, saying “We are witnessing today a new trend that will create a new path for the Middle East.”
But he also spoke to the Palestinian people, noting the Abraham Accords “will enable us to stand with the Palestinians and enable their hopes of establishing a Palestinian state” and thanking Netanyahu for “halting annexation of Palestinian territories.”
Those overtures to the Palestinians may fall on deaf ears. According to the AP, in addition to the rocket attacks Palestinians expressed their outrage in the West Bank and in Gaza by trampling on and setting fires to pictures of Trump, Netanyahu, and the leaders of the UAE and Bahrain.
The peace accords were not well-received in Bahrain either, where the AP reports the Shiite opposition group Al-Wefaq released a statement condemning normalized relations with the “Zionist entity.”
Nevertheless, President Trump has promoted the deal as the first step in reaching a broad agreement to secure peace in the Middle East. In an interview with “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, Trump said his administration is negotiating with several other Arab states and predicted that Palestine “will come to the table” when everyone else is on board.
“They’re actually getting to a point where they’re going to want to make a deal. They won’t say that outwardly. They want to make a deal,” Trump said. “Otherwise, they will be left out in the cold.”