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Palestinians fire rockets at Israel, wounding two, during White House ceremony

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Palestinian militants fired rockets from Gaza into Israel, wounding two people, on Tuesday at the same time as Israel and two Gulf Arab states signed normalisation agreements at the White House in Washington.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack from the Hamas Islamist-run territory.

Palestinians, who seek an independent state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza view the U.S.-brokered deals between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain as betrayal of their cause.

Warning sirens sounded in the coastal cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump and the UAE and Bahraini foreign ministers held the signing ceremony on the White House lawn.

Automated rocket alerts on TV screens in Israel during live broadcasts from Washington were a graphic reminder of on-going conflict along the restive Gaza border, even as Tel Aviv’s city hall was lit up with the word “peace” in Arabic, Hebrew and English.

Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service said paramedics treated two men for light injuries from flying glass in Ashdod, where a rocket exploded outside a shopping centre, blowing out storefront windows.

An Israeli military spokesman said two rockets were fired from Gaza and the Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted one of them

In Gaza, which Israel blockades, citing security concerns, dozens of Palestinians rallied outside a U.N. office to condemn the normalisation deals shortly before the signing ceremony began.

“Palestine isn’t for sale,” protesters chanted.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the Bahrain and UAE agreements would not bring Israel peace in the region.

“Peoples of the region will continue to deal with this occupation as their true enemy,” he told Reuters, speaking from Turkey. Hamas did not claim responsibility for the rockets.

In the West Bank city of Ramallah, there was a small, muted protest at which 200 people gathered in a central square.

Some carried a banner reading: “The UAE-Israeli normalization agreement is a reward for the state of occupation and for settlements, and is a stab in the back of Jerusalem and of Palestine.”

The normalisation agreements are the first signed between Israel and Arab states since the peace accords with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

“This is not peace, this is surrender in return for the continuation of the aggression,” read a tweet posted on the Twitter account of the Palestine Liberation Organization. “There will no peace before Palestine is free.”

Additional reporting by Stephen Farrell, Ali Sawafta and Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Marguerita Choy

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