A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up Monday, lightly wounding two Israeli soldiers. The attack came as U.S. envoys were arriving in the region on a mission to end 14 months of bloodshed.

The Israeli army says the Palestinian man exploded charges that were strapped to his body near the Erez checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, where where Palestinians enter Israel to work.

The militant Islamic group Hamas claimed responsibility for the explosion, saying the bomber was from a refugee camp in Gaza City.

Hamas has been threatening revenge since Israel killed one of its leaders, Mahmoud Abu Hanoud, in a helicopter strike on Friday.

Israel says Mr. Abu Hanoud was the mastermind behind suicide bombings that killed dozens of Israelis.

Hamas members say they were responsible for a mortar attack on Saturday that killed an Israeli soldier in Gaza.

Israel retaliated with helicopter strikes on Palestinian targets in Gaza on Sunday.

The surge in violence coincides with a new U.S. diplomatic effort in the region.

U.S. State Department envoy William Burns and retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni will try to negotiate a viable cease-fire leading to renewed peace talks.

Earlier this year the Director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, negotiated a truce, but it was never implemented.

An international commission led by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell recommended a blueprint for peace beginning with a cease-fire, a cooling off period and confidence-building measures leading to negotiations.

An advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Danny Ayalon, says Israel hopes the visit will be a success. "We think it is high time to do away with the bloodshed. I think it is the highest priority for the government of Israel to achieve a cease-fire and to go along with the Mitchell principles. We are very much committed to the Tenet and Mitchell principles and we hope that this visit will make a difference," Mr. Ayalon said.

Both Israel and the Palestinians accepted the truce negotiated by Mr. Tenet and the recommendations of the Mitchell committee.

However, the violence has continued to rage since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation erupted in September of last year.