On Tuesday Palestinian militants detonated a bomb that killed an Israeli soldier patrolling near Gaza, to this, Israel responded with an airstrike, straining the fragile cease-fire on the eve of a visit by President Barack Obama's new Mideast envoy.

The violence jolted the calm that has largely prevailed since Israel ended a devastating three-week offensive in Gaza on Jan. 17. Since withdrawing its troops, Israel has threatened to retaliate hard for any violations of the truce.

Israel's top defense soldiers met with Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, after the bombing.

Barak told Associated Press reporters, We will respond, but there is no point in elaborating, shortly before the airstrike. After the meeting Barak talked with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert but no details of the discussion were released.

The Israeli military dismissed earlier reports that the explosive might have been an old land mine triggered accidentally. The military said it had determined that the bomb was activated by militants, but it would not give details.

Three Israelis were also wounded in the blast. Hamas also said one of its militants was wounded in an Israeli airstrike.

The violence; just a day before newly appointed U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, was due in Israel has emphasized the difficulty Obama faces as he tries to get Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts back on track.

Egypt is trying to negotiate a longer-term arrangement to allow peace to prevail in Gaza; home to 1.4 million people, which has been ruled by the Islamic militants of Hamas since June 2007.