Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian in an exchange of fire near the northern Gaza Strip's border with Israel on Friday, hospital officials and the Israeli military said.

The military said an army force patrolling the border identified a Palestinian gunman planting explosives near the security fence along the border, east of Gaza City.

The gunman threw a hand grenade at the soldiers, who responded by firing back, it said in a statement.

Gaza emergency services chief Mo'aweya Hassanein said one gunman was killed. A second gunmen was taken to hospital with moderate wounds.

The military said it was the second attempt this week by Palestinian militants to plant explosive devices near the border fence.

Tensions have risen in Gaza over the past weeks, with a number of fatal incidents recorded following months of relative calm.

In the winter of last year Israel responded to near daily rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza on its southern communities by launching a devastating three-week offensive in the coastal strip run by the radical Islamist Hamas movement.

Some 1,400 Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed according to rights groups.

Both Hamas and Israel had largely observed an unofficial truce in the year following the Gaza war, but in recent weeks factions and individual militants not linked to Hamas have stepped up their sporadic attacks, prompting Israel to respond with air strikes.