JERUSALEM (CNN) – President Obama's newly appointed envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, arrived in Israel on Wednesday as part of a new U.S. effort to work toward a broader peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel's Foreign Ministry confirmed Mitchell arrived in Tel Aviv, and will head to Jerusalem shortly.
Watch the Muslim world react to Obama
Hours before his arrival, Israeli missiles struck several smuggling tunnels along Gaza's southern border with Egypt in response to the killing of an Israeli soldier a day earlier near the Kissufim crossing, the Israeli military said.
One of Israel's key demands in peace talks has been international help shutting down tunnels into Gaza that Israel says Hamas fighters use to smuggle weapons into the territory. Hamas - which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel - controls Gaza.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two administration officials tell CNN that special Middle East special envoy George Mitchell could be traveling to the Middle East as early as next week.
Although the schedule is still being planned, initial stops include Jerusalem, Ramallah, Cairo, Amman, possibly Saudi Arabia and stops in Europe.
Watch Obama's emphasis on diplomacy
President Barack Obama named Mitchell Thursday as special envoy for Middle East peace, who will travel to the region as soon as possible.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that President Obama will name former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as his special envoy for the Middle East during an event at the State Department Thursday afternoon, according to a senior administration official.
Related: Mitchell is a seasoned foreign policy veteran
The move, which is meant to send the signal that Obama is planning to get actively involved in trying to help broker Mideast peace early in his term, will be announced at a 2:40 pm ET event with newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In recent days, Obama officials have talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, sources close to the administration and diplomats told CNN.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Obama administration has asked former Sen. George Mitchell to be a special envoy to the Middle East, sources close to the administration and diplomats told CNN.
In the final days of the transition, officials talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, the sources said.
Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration, authoring a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror.