Ambulance waiting outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv (Twitter)

A man with a weapon believed to be an axe or a large knife has stabbed and wounded a guard at the US embassy in Tel Aviv, police sources have confirmed.

The man was arrested by police after the guard fired warning shots. The incident took place at around 09.00 GMT.

Israeli police said the suspect was a 41-year-old Jewish man from the city of Bat Yam and the attack may have been "criminally motivated".

"A Mazda car stopped next to the US embassy and a man got out carrying a red bag and a pitchfork," David Cohen, 48, told Reuters.

"He began to run towards the security guards. They saw him, took their guns out and told him to get down on the ground.

"He continued running and then they fired in the air and ordered him again to lie down," Cohen continued.

"He continued to advance. They jumped on him and took his bag away."

The wounded guard was reported to be in moderate condition and has been taken to Ichilov Hospital.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to fly to Israel to hold talks with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a possible ceasefire with Hamas.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon is expected to visit Jerusalem for talks with Netanyahu before heading to Ramallah in the West Bank to see Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.